Poll says £5,000 enough to secure backing

People will more likely get behind an infrastructure project if they are paid to do so – with £5,000 the amount needed to secure their support.

That is the finding of a poll of more than 1,600 people carried out by YouGov for construction group Mace last month, which said the majority would be swayed to support a scheme in their own backyard if thousands of pounds was paid into their bank accounts.

The data comes in the middle of a government consultation on whether direct cash payments of up £20,000 per household should be offered to people living near shale gas sites.

People living in the North-east are most attracted to the idea of a direct cash payment in return for supporting a new road or rail job. Three times as many people living in the region said they would totally support rather than oppose a project if £5,000 was on the table

All other regions of the country are also more likely to support than oppose a major project with a cash sweetener.

The head of major programmes and infrastructure at Mace, Jason Millett, said: “Ultimately cash in the bank, rather than abstract GDP numbers, will help win over local support.

“Clearly direct cash incentives to households are not a magic bullet. However, our findings show that they can play an important role in persuading local people to get behind a project.”

But only 25% of people in London would take the money in return for their support, the poll said.

Men are more likely to be attracted by a cash payment while half of all 18-24 year olds would take the money. Three-quarters of those aged over 65 said they would not take the money.

The findings also reveal widespread support for public money to be spent on infrastructure projects with 62% of the public thinking direct government spending would be good for the economy.