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Tories Most Trusted on Economy Still Trail Labour in U.K Polls

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Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives are the most trusted by British voters on the economy, though they still lag behind the opposition Labour Party in popularity, polls show.

A third of voters believe the Tories are the most trusted to deliver a responsible economic plan, compared with 21 percent who say they would rather bank on Labour, according to a ICM Research poll commissioned by the Sunday Telegraph and published yesterday. Labour maintained a total two-point lead.

As Britain’s recovery strengthens, the economy has become the battleground for an election that’s 16 months away. While Cameron’s Conservatives argue accelerating growth is proof their austerity plan is working, Labour say the rising cost of living has made most Britons worse off. The ICM poll showed almost twice as many voters feel inferior financially than they did when the Tory-led coalition came to power in 2010.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said in an interview with the Scotland on Sunday newspaper that while unemployment has fallen faster than expected, interest rates would only increase when the economy has “enough momentum to withstand it.”

“There are still a lot of people looking for work, and the excess capacity in firms means there is additional slack,” he said.

Labour Lead

A separate YouGov Plc poll for the Sunday Times showed Labour five points in the lead with 39 percent, while an Opinium poll published on the Observer’s website placed Labour seven points ahead of the Conservatives.

ICM, who interviewed 2,038 people online on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30, said that 25 percent of respondents trusted Labour to help their families cut living costs, one point more than those trusting the Tories to do so.

YouGov, who interviewed 1,885 people between Jan. 30 and Jan 31, found the Tories had 34 percent support, with the Liberal Democrats at 8 percent. The Opinium poll showed support for Labour held at 36 percent compared with two weeks ago, while backing for the Conservatives dropped one point to 29 percent. UKIP held at 17 percent, with the Liberal Democrats maintaining 8 percent support, Opinium said.

A YouGov poll commissioned by Channel 5 and published yesterday showed two-thirds of Britons think the U.K. benefits system is unfit for purpose and more than three-quarters oppose immigrants being allowed benefits in their first year of residency. YouGov polled 1,814 adults online between Jan. 27 and Jan. 28.

To contact the reporter on this story: Svenja O’Donnell in London at sodonnell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net