LONDON Britons remain deeply pessimistic about the economy and are increasingly worried about their personal finances, a poll published on Thursday showed.
This month's Reuters/Ipsos MORI poll shows that 48 percent of voters believe their personal financial circumstances will worsen over the next year. That figure was less than a third a year ago.
The coalition government, in power since May, is slashing spending on public services, aiming to all but eliminate a budget deficit of about 10 percent of national output by 2015.
A budget next week is expected to offer little respite from a package of austerity measures that includes widespread job cuts in the public sector.
The Ipsos MORI Economic Optimism Index was at minus 28, with 51 percent of those surveyed saying they thought the country's economy would get worse over the next 12 months. Economic optimism is at two-year lows.
"People are pessimistic about the future of the economy and most now think it will take longer for the economy to recover than a year ago," said Helen Cleary of Ipsos MORI.
"At a time when GDP forecasts suggest that the economy is getting stronger, public opinion is not following official predictions."
Opponents of the government's economic policies argue the austerity measures could strangle a tentative economic recovery, particularly given that the Bank of England may soon raise interest rates to tame inflation.
A Bank of England survey on Thursday showed Britons expect a higher rate of inflation over the coming year than at any time since August 2008, suggesting stubborn price rises are becoming embedded in consumer psychology.
An increasing number also believe the government is taking the wrong approach over where to cut, although the opposition Labour party has not yet convinced people over its own policies, according to the Reuters/Ipsos MORI poll.
Satisfaction with George Osborne as Chancellor has dropped significantly since the last time we asked the question in June last year.
Voting intention figures showed Conservatives on 37 percent, up four percentage points from last month, Labour on 41 percent, down two, and the Liberal Democrats on 10 percent, down three.
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 11-13th March 2011. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
(Editing by Mike Peacock/Keith Weir)