A few weeks ago, I mentioned that a poll had shown 36% of people in the UK supported the idea of a basic income and promised to look in some more detail at the results when ComRes released them. Unfortunately, that slipped my mind for a while thanks to other things going on, but I’ve now found the details of the poll and a PDF file of the more detailed results, broken down by demographics.
The question asked was one of a series of Green party policies that respondents were asked if they supported or opposed (there was also a don’t know option) but the policies were presented without any party labels attached. The general question was “Do you support or oppose each of the following possible future Government policies?” with basic income posed as “Introducing a ‘Citizens Income’, giving every single person in the country £72 per week irrespective of their working status or income”. There don’t appear to be any questions before this that would have primed or influenced respondents to answer that in a certain way. There were just over 2000 respondents, which is a decent sized sample and means the margin of error for the full sample is around 2.5%. As we saw, the result here was that 36% were in favour, 40% against.
What the details of the poll give us is some information on how different demographics responded to the question, and that’s very interesting. However, we do need to be slightly sceptical of the results at this level, as they’re small sub-samples of the larger set which means the margin of error is bigger (much bigger in some cases) but I think they’re still interesting.
First up, there’s no real difference between men and women on the issue: men respond 37% in favour, 41% against, women are 35% in favour, 40% against, which are so close they’re well within the margin of error and show us nothing significant.
Where things get interesting is when we look at the breakdowns by age, which are broken into six groups:
18=24 year olds are 39% in favour, 36% against (total sample 240)
25-34 year olds are 50% in favour, 31% against (total sample 339)
35-44 year olds are 42% in favour, 28% against (total sample 339)
45-54 year olds are 41% in favour, 34% against (total sample 358)
55-64 year olds are 33% in favour, 45% against (total sample 299)
65+ year olds are 18% in favour, 61% against (total sample 438)
Again, the smaller sample sizes mean these aren’t as reliable (the margin of error is around 5 or 6%) but the trend they show is very interesting with those up to 54 having a slight tendency to be in favour of basic income, while those 55 or above tending to oppose it.
We also see a pattern in the breakdown by social class (for those not familiar with this system of classification, some details are here). These break down like this:
AB social groups are 30% in favour, 51% against (total sample 539)
C1 social group are 35% in favour, 41% against (total sample 558)
C2 social group are 41% in favour, 35% against (total sample 438)
DE social groups are 41% in favour, 33% against (total sample 478)
There’s not as much variation here, but there’s still a trend for those in the ‘lower’ groups to support it more. As these groups tend to correlate with income, that indicates that those on lower incomes are more likely to support the idea of a basic income.
A final breakdown indicates that those working in the private sector are possibly more likely to support basic income (41-35) than those in the public sector (37-37), but the sample sizes there don’t make that a very reliable result.
I thought the original result was interesting, and this extra information confirms that. The important thing to remember here is that most people have had no information about the idea of basic income as it’s something rarely discussed in the media. However, the general idea does have support, and even seems to appeal to a plurality of younger people. We’d need some more detailed polling with a larger sample to know more, but this suggests that there could well be a receptive audience out there for basic income and arguing for it and promoting it may not be as hard as we might think.
Now, is there anyone out there who wants to fund some more detailed polling to find out?
(Update: Have changed image at the top of the post. As someone pointed out, a similar slogan has been used by fascists and I wasn’t comfortable with the possible implications that might be drawn from that)