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Monday, 2 April, 2001, 14:36 GMT
UK voters' plea for public services

(This story was first published 15 February, 2001.)

UK voters would overwhelmingly prefer to see more money spent on public services than on tax cuts in Gordon Brown's Budget on 7 March.

A survey carried out for BBC News Online suggests heavy backing for public spending, and that many more people want pensioners to be targeted than to see petrol prices lowered.

What should Gordon Brown do with spare cash?
70% give more to public services
15% lower indirect taxes
13% lower income tax
When asked what chancellor Gordon Brown should do if he had more money to give away, 70% of people replied that money should be given to public services such as health and education.

And pleas for lower income tax, or lower indirect taxes such as petrol or cigarettes were well down the list of priorities.

Click here for full poll results

The female population showed the greatest backing for spending on public services, at 78%, compared to 63% of men.

Pensioner concern

The survey also suggests that UK voters want to prioritise the care of the nation's pensioners.

Four out of ten saw pensioners as the most important group to receive extra money from the budget, followed by 27% who wanted more help given to families with young children ahead of married couples or suffering businesses.

Just more than half the people surveyed thought that the government should subsidise mothers to stay at home and look after their children if there were to be tax cuts.

Yes, non-working mums should be subsidised
18-24yrs old - 70%
25-34yrs old - 58%
35-44yrs old - 57%
45-54yrs old - 54%
55-64yrs old - 50%
65+ yrs old - 34%
Both men and women approved of the subsidies for non-working mums, although the 18 to 24 year olds were notably more enthusiastic than their elders.

Lower petrol taxes came out much lower as a priority than spending on public services or pensioners.

Two thirds of people surveyed wanted the government to restore the married couples allowance, while 66% wanted tax relief on mortgage interest payments.

ICM interviewed a random sample of 1004 adults via the Internet between 6 and 9 February, 2001. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

The BBC News Online 1000 will continue to give their opinions on political issues over the election campaign.

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