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A third of Britons see austerity as 'an ideological project'

A THIRD of the British public believe that austerity is an “ideological project,” a new poll reports today.

Two-thirds of people believe that the government’s massive rollback of public-sector investment, which has resulted in drastic spending cuts across most of the country, is an intentional act.

A similar proportion of people, 31 per cent, also said that austerity was damaging the economy and the Daily Mail and the Sun were ranked as the least trustworthy sources for news on the country’s finances.

The Survation poll, which has been commissioned by left-of-centre think tank Class, intends to highlight the level of economic illiteracy that exists in Britain.

Politically, Labour were neck and neck with the Tories on the question of overall political trust, though Labour scored significantly better on being trusted to tell the truth about the economy.

The poll also reveals that two-thirds of people do not understand what a “government deficit” is.

This is despite the fact that eight out of 10 people consider themselves knowledgeable on economic questions and three-quarters of those surveyed will vote at the next general election based on their perceptions of economic competence of political parties.

A group of respected economists will gather in Parliament later this week to urge the government to make economics more widely accessible to the general public.

The Progressive Economy Forum, which is spearheaded by notables such as Ann Pettifor and Lord Robert Skidelsky, intends to a shape a new programme of progressive policies founded on equality and sustainability as an alternative to austerity.

Class director Faiza Shaheen said that the poll raises serious concerns about the political culture in Britain and how the British public understand economic questions.

“Economic illiteracy undermines the ability of our democracy to function,” she said.

“It is not just the general public that lack understanding. Our leading journalists and political leaders often present economic arguments without debate.”  

Progressive Economy Forum chairman Patrick Allen insisted that austerity has caused the biggest growth in inequality in Britain since the Napoleonic wars.

He said that it was “shocking” that the public were unaware of the widespread concerns over austerity that many leading economists have.

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