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Young voters think government should cut benefits to help plug Britainís deficit, says Newsbeat survey


Young voters think the government should cut benefits to help plug Britainís £90 billion deficit, a survey for BBC Radio 1ís Newsbeat suggests.

It found three-quarters (76%) of 18-24-year-olds thought unemployment payments should be cut and 68% said housing benefit needs to be reduced.

When asked what areas of spending should be protected, 87% said the NHS followed by 82% who picked schools and 81% who selected the police and fire services.

ComRes surveyed 1,004 people aged between 18-24 for the BBC between 28 September and 3 October 2010.

The survey forms part of a week of special news content on Radio 1ís Newsbeat and BBC Radio 1Xtra examining the impending cuts to public sector spending and how it may impact on younger adults.

On the evening of the Chancellorís Spending Review, BBC Three will air a special live programme, Young Votersí Question Time, in which the audience puts its questions and comments to the panel, chaired by Richard Bacon.

The survey also suggests young voters are prepared to make tough choices to shrink the public debt, and 62% agreed there is a genuine need to reduce spending Ė although most wanted cuts to be made slowly to give the economy more time to recover.

Young voters favoured spending cuts over tax rises by a large margin.

More than three-quarters of those polled described the VAT rise to 20% as a bad way to help the government balance the books.

Increasing capital gains tax for higher-rate taxpayers was supported by 49% of 18-24-year-olds with 48% opposed to the measure.

Calls for the £87 billion benefits bill to be reduced were shared across UK regions, although slightly older voters tended to favour deeper cuts.

Seven in 10 18-24-year-olds said that imposing a weekly limit of £400 on housing benefits is a good way to reduce the deficit, while 90% supported the introduction of medical checks for anyone claiming disability living allowance.

But young voters were less enthusiastic about policies to reduce other aspects of government spending.

Moves to increase university fees or introduce a graduate tax were only supported by 33% of 18-24-year-olds, with 64% against.

Just 56% of young people supported raising the retirement age to 66, with 42% opposing the policy.

Policies to scrap government quangos and freeze the pay of public sector workers earning more than £21,000 a year were also not widely supported.

The poll also asked 18-24-year-olds to identify spending areas they wanted to see cut or protected in the upcoming comprehensive spending review.

Front-line public services such as the NHS, schools the police and fire service emerged as the most popular to survive unscathed followed by old age pensions and defence.

Other walfare payments, plus new house building, overseas aid and transport, were the sectors earmarked by young people for the deepest cuts.

Radio 1ís Newsbeat editor, Rod McKenzie, says: ďOur listeners are connected with the deficit story and seem to support a tough but sensible approach to cutting it.Ē


Any use of information in this release must credit BBC Radio 1ís Newsbeat.

A week of special news content examining the impending cuts to public sector spending and how it may impact on younger adults begins on Radio 1ís Newsbeat and Radio 1Xtra from Monday 11 October 2010.

Young Votersí Question Time, chaired by Richard Bacon, will air on BBC Three on 20 Wednesday October at 8pm.

BBC News will broadcast a season of programming and content across its TV, radio and online journalism output examining the impending cuts to public sector spending.


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