An opinion poll for the Institute of Welsh Affairs suggests that the Welsh Government would face a close fight in a referendum on it setting income tax. The UK government has agreed to devolving a limited income tax power, subject to a vote of the Welsh people. The poll shows that opinion is split.
- In favour 40%
- Against 43%
- Don't know 18%
Market research company RMG polled 500 people. The percentages have been rounded and the figures are not weighted. Nevertheless the Institute of Welsh Affairs says they show that the First Minister is right to be cautious about calling a referendum once Westminster has passed the legislation.
– IWA Director Lee Waters
This is the first poll carried out since the David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced that Wales would get powers to tax and borrow. It will confirm Carwyn Jones’ instincts that borrowing powers should be embraced but tax varying powers should be treated cautiously. The fact that 40% are infavour of giving AMs the power to vary income tax, and 18% undecided, suggests that a referendum may be winnable. But the sceptics start off with a 3% lead, and enthusiasts for devolving tax powers would be wise to proceed cautiously.
The poll found 74% were aware of the recent announcements on devolving tax and borrowing powers and 59% thought the economy will benefit from Welsh Government borrowing to pay for major projects, such as upgrading the M4. There was significant support for the National Assembly getting more powers.
- More powers 40%
- Present powers 37%
- Fewer powers 5%
- No devolved government 12%
- Welsh independence from UK 7%
– Prof Roger Scully, Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University
This poll reinforces the consistent picture from evidence over recent years that devolution is now the settled will of the Welsh people.But while the fact of devolution now has stable majority support, the extent of it does not. And whether partial autonomy for Wales should include tax powers is something about which the people of Wales, as well as the political class, remain divided about.