Only one in four people trusts the government with the NHS, according to the “damning” findings of poll commissioned by a union.

Unison said a survey of more than 2,000 adults revealed “poor trust” in the coalition, with just over a third saying they backed its measures to improve the economy and over half disagreeing over the fairness of taxes.

The union said the most telling finding was that only 25 per cent trusted the government with the health service.

The poll, published at the union’s annual conference in Brighton, also revealed that one in four ran out of money before their next pay day, with 9 per cent having to borrow just to pay for essentials.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “With less than a year to go to the general election, the coalition is sliding down in the public’s estimation on three key election battleground areas.

“The public sees through government rhetoric claiming the economy is on the up, because they are struggling day to day to keep their heads above water.

“Four in 10 of those surveyed said they are worse off a result of the government’s cuts to public spending, and public services workers have been punished by this government by denying them a pay rise for another year, despite bragging about an economic recovery.

“The rich are getting richer and cutting the top rate of income tax has gone down like a lead balloon with the electorate.

“But it is on the NHS that the Tories have shown their true colours and they will pay the price at the next election.

“Precious billions have been wasted on the massive and unnecessary top-down reorganisation of our health service. Instead of improving patient care, we now have longer waiting times, including for cancer treatment, and cuts and closures to vital patient services.

“The winners are again those already reaping the benefits of the Tory cuts agenda. Big businesses are queuing up to take over lucrative contracts in the public sector.”