The hand-outs for overseas development would be the top target for cuts among the public, according to a poll by Ipsos MORI.
More than half of all voters - 55 per cent - want to see a reduction in the overseas aid budget, in defiance of David Cameron’s refusal to shelve its protected status.
Lord Ashcroft believes that the Prime Minister should reassess the aid budget as it would be popular and would help the chancellor achieve his fiscal goals
In an article for Conservative Home, he said that the target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income is ‘arbitary and even bizarre’. He argues that it would be both ‘popular’ and ‘help the Chancellor achieve his fiscal goals’.
He said: ‘People show compassion by giving of what they have, of their own accord. If people want to support charities that provide real help to those in need, I admire them. But governments cannot be compassionate with money they have confiscated from their citizens on pain of prison.’
Benefit payments is another area that the public want to see reduced. Some 44 per cent want a cut in welfare payments, while 28 per cent want to see a reduction in spending on defence at a time of austerity.
A majority of Tory supporters, 65 per cent, want to see a reduction in benefits while even 43 per cent of Liberal Democrats want to see lower payments, just behind the 50 per cent of Ukip voters.
However just over one in four Labour supporters - 26 per cent - want lower benefits.
Some 84 per cent of Ukip supporters want to see spending on overseas aid slashed, followed by 61 per cent of Conservatives, 49 per cent of Labour voters and 47 per cent of Lib Dem supporters.
The poll shows voters are strongly against cuts to frontline services, with just three per cent wanting a cut in state pensions, two per cent agreeing with a cut to schools and one per cent in a reduction on spending in care for the elderly.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening has been more eager to overhaul aid spending than her predecessor Andrew Mitchell.
Miss Greening, a chartered accountant, has promised to examine every penny that goes on foreign aid. She has cancelled handouts to India and earmarked part of the budget to support Ministry of Defence peacekeeping programmes.
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