With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions against Moscow pushing fuel and energy prices higher, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to do more to ease the squeeze on household budgets in his spring statement next week.
In the poll, conducted for London Communications Agency by Deltapoll, 52 per cent highlighted the cost of living, ahead of housing (29 per cent), the Ukraine war (26 per cent) and crime (25 per cent).
Energy bills are set to soar by nearly £700 a year from April as the energy price cap rises while average fuel prices have hit record highs on forecourts. Meanwhile the Chancellor is set to press ahead with plans to raise National Insurance by 1.25 percentage points in April.
On Sunday, the Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove ruled out scrapping the National Insurance rise but acknowledged cost-of-living pressures “will accumulate as a result of what’s going on in Ukraine”.
Labour has called on the Government to act over the cost of living crisis after its own analysis revealed the average family is facing an annual rise of £386 in the cost of petrol.
The squeeze on household finances is expected to provide one of the major backdrops to crucial local elections in England on May 5.
According to the poll for LCA by Deltapoll, Labour has opened up a 30-point lead over the Conservatives in the capital.
The poll puts Sir Keir Starmer’s party on 54 per cent, the Tories on 24 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 9 per cent and the Greens on 5 per cent. Other parties score a combined 9 per cent.
Although the Ukraine crisis has given Boris Johnson a respite from the partygate scandal, the Prime Minister is still expected to drag heavily on the Conservatives’ performance at the elections – a major test for him and his party.
His own future may still rest on the findings of a Met Police investigation into lockdown busting parties in Downing Street. If he is found to have broken the law and is fined for attending gatherings then Tory MPs may push for a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister before the country goes to the polls.
In January, the Tory peer and leading pollster Lord Hayward predicted that the Tories were facing their worst result in council elections in London for more than 50 years.
The Deltapoll would appear to confirm Labour is heading for a successful set of local elections in May but experts at LCA warned its leadership to be cautious.
In the last borough elections in 2018, Labour won 44 per cent of the vote overall – winning 1,123 seats and outright control of 21 boroughs. The Conservatives won 29 per cent, while the Lib Dems managed nearly 13 per cent.
Previous polling in the run-up to recent London-wide elections – including the borough elections in 2018 and the 2021 Mayoral vote – has tended to over-exaggerate support for the Labour Party. Labour sources have in recent weeks played down the party’s chances of taking totemic Conservative boroughs like Wandsworth and Westminster.
Jenna Goldberg, Board Director at LCA, said: “From this poll, Labour would appear to be approaching May’s elections in the capital from a position of strength – not least because London’s voters could blame the government for the cost-of-living crisis.
“However, a whole range of factors could easily combine to chip away at this considerable lead and the Conservatives will presumably be looking to campaign on local issues as much as possible.”
Paddy Hennessy, a Senior Advisor at LCA and former director of communications for Sadiq Khan, said: “The Tory vote was more resilient in 2018 and 2021 than many predicted.
“Furthermore, Labour strategists may ignore London, where the party’s success has been priced-in, in favour of seeking a narrative of winning back areas of the ‘Red Wall in’ the midlands and the north.”
Deltapoll interviewed a representative sample of 1026 Londoners aged 18+ online, between 3 and 7 March 2022.