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Poor voters ‘may hold sway’ at next General Election

18 October 2019

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LOW-INCOME voters could be a crucial force at the next General Election, research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) suggests.

The report, published last week, says that more voters from low-income backgrounds are likely to vote in the next election: seven per cent more voted in 2017 than 2015, and that more are also likely to switch between parties.

Furthermore, 59 per cent of low-income voters who did not vote at the 2017 General Election said that they now planned to vote at the next one, when asked in July 2019.

A previous JRF study suggested that low-income voters urgently wanted action on living standards and domestic issues, over and above the resolution of Brexit (News, 9 August).

The executive director of JRF, Claire Ainsley, said last week: “Action on living standards is not just a route to Number 10, but is also the right thing to do. While Westminster remains at loggerheads, families are still being swept into poverty and struggling to make ends meet.”

The JRF research suggested that low-income voters’ priorities were for more vibrant local economies and high streets; better paid and more secure work that boosts their living standards; and opportunities to improve their skills and find good apprenticeships.

About 9.5 million people were defined as low-income voters, and 2.7 million of them could be characterised as swing voters. They were more likely to vote Labour than Conservative, but were also less likely to be tribal.

“Low-income voters may now hold sway in very many constituencies across Britain. They feel increasingly locked out of jobs, investment, and opportunity. All parties must commit to a programme to improving living standards for those who are least well-off, investing in communities so places can thrive, and designing a social-security system that enables families to keep their heads above water,” Ms Ainsley said.

“Ultimately, delivering on promises which improve people’s lives is the best way to restore trust and prove that politics can bring people together and be a force for good.”

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