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Public's confidence in Osborne low
On the eve of George Osborne's crucial Budget, a survey has suggested that more than four out of 10 voters (44%) think he should be sacked as Chancellor.
Fewer than one in five (18%) of those questioned for ITV News said Mr Osborne should keep his job, while 38% did not know.
Favourite to replace him in the Treasury's top job was Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable, favoured by 12%, followed by Foreign Secretary William Hague (5%) and Home Secretary Theresa May (3%).
Faced with these choices for Chancellor, more than one in five (22%) responded "someone else". Almost three out of five (57%) thought the country was not heading in the right direction and nearly two-thirds (61%) expect the UK to return to recession.
Trust in Mr Osborne stood at -40, with just 18% saying they trust him to see Britain through the current economic difficulties, while 58% do not. This represents a 13-point drop since this time last year.
Prime Minister David Cameron's economic trust rating fell 11 points to -22 and Labour leader Ed Miliband's rose 14 points to -32 and shadow chancellor Ed Balls edged up four to -45.
A separate poll found that any give-aways to boost the amount of money in consumers' pockets in tomorrow's Budget are unlikely to achieve the required result of stimulating economic activity. Asked how they would use any extra income resulting from Budget decisions, some 74% of those questioned said they would save it or use it to pay off debts, compared to just 26% who would be likely to spend it.
The finding reflects a cautious attitude among consumers, many of whom told pollsters TNS BMRB that they are experiencing economic hardship now and do not expect matters to improve over the next year.
Some 51% of those questioned for the monthly Public Opinion Monitor said that Chancellor George Osborne's handling of the economy over the past year has been poor, compared to 17% who said it was good.
A substantial minority (42%) said they were finding it harder to meet household bills than last year - down from 52% a year ago - with parents (53%) and the 45-54 age group (61%) most likely to say it is becoming more difficult. Some 51% said things were about the same as last year.