The Polls and Surveys That Cost the Taxpayer More Than ?1M a Week

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES CHAPMAN

MORE than ?1million a week is being spent on Government focus groups, surveys and opinion polls to find what voters think.

In all, ?55million has been paid out over the past year for a bewildering range of citizens' juries, telephone and internet polls and consumer surveys.

The most expensive project was a survey to ascertain the 'public acceptability' of charging motorists for every mile they drive, which cost the Department of Transport ?566,111.

It was followed by a project to test 'attitudes to climate change', also conducted by the Department for Transport, which cost ?411,500.

The Environment Department spent ?13,585 asking the public about their 'attitude to farmers' and ?5,165 gauging 'consumer attitudes to water efficiency of bathroom fittings'.

The International Development Department commissioned a ?7,400 survey to measure interest in 'shopping ethically for Valentine's Day'. The biggest-spending department was Health, which paid ?10,432,843 for polls and surveys.

A single polling firm, Ipsos-MORI, appears to have been paid at least ?31million over the last two years.

The Conservatives, who uncovered the figures with Parliamentary questions to every Whitehall department, accused the Government of an 'astonishing waste of taxpayers' money' during an economic downturn. …