Many more Conservative members favour reducing government spending to fund tax cuts rather than borrowing more, a poll suggests.
According to the survey, almost half of Tory members believe the tax cuts promised by Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss should be funded by reducing the amount spent on public services.
Asked to choose between funding the cuts by reducing spending or increasing borrowing, 47 per cent chose less spending, while 27 per cent opted for more borrowing. Twenty-six per cent said they did not know or preferred not to say.
The survey of 500 Conservative members was commissioned by Conservative Way Forward, the recently relaunched small-state caucus led by Steve Baker, the former minister. It was carried out by People Polling, a new firm led by Matthew Goodwin, the pollster and academic.
Mr Baker said spending cuts should be implemented alongside tax cuts to “inspire growth”.
Ms Truss has pledged to reverse the National Insurance increase and planned corporation tax rise in the autumn, while Mr Sunak has said he would cut VAT on energy bills and reduce income tax from 2024.
But both have avoided committing to significant reductions in government spending. Instead, the Foreign Secretary told The Telegraph she would divert hundreds of millions of pounds from quangos to frontline services.
Mr Sunak, the former chancellor, has said he would “reduce the rate of growth in public spending”. He has criticised Ms Truss for her willingness to borrow more to fund immediate tax cuts.
Overall, 27 per cent of members said taxes in Britain were “much too high”, while 39 per cent said taxes were “somewhat high”. Only 22 per cent said the current tax levels were “about right”, while seven per cent said they were somewhat low or too low.
The poll also found that 73 per cent of members were concerned that excessive government borrowing and spending could bankrupt Britain in the years ahead, with only 18 per cent indicating that such a scenario was not a concern.
Mr Baker said: “All Conservatives know that taxes today are far too high. It’s not people’s mortgages, rent or fuel bills that are their biggest monthly outgoings – it’s their tax bill - the cost of running today’s vast state.
“Liz is absolutely right that cutting taxes must be an urgent priority to inspire growth and help families today, but tax cuts are not the only answer.
“Members quite rightly want the next PM to cut public spending to fund tax cuts. The next government needs to cut this spending so that we free individuals, communities, families and businesses so that they can get on with creating wealth and serving each other once again.”
A tax-cutting “charter” published by Conservative Way Forward last month rebutted claims, later made by Mr Sunak, that immediate tax cuts would worsen inflation. The document, written by Julian Jessop, an influential economist, adds: “In fact, they could actually reduce it.”