Politicians are still trusted less than estate agents, journalists and bankers, whilst hairdressers are amongst the top five most trusted professions
New polling by Ipsos shows that politicians remain the profession least trusted by the British public, below estate agents, journalists and bankers.
Just 21% of Britons trust politicians to tell the truth compared with 25% trusting journalists and estate agents and 42% who trust builders. Despite this, the picture for politicians has improved since last year, when just 16% of the public trusted them to tell the truth. This question has been asked consistently since 1983, making it the longest-running series on trust in key professions in the UK. It shows that public trust in politicians has always been low: at no point since 1983 have more than a quarter of the public ever trusted politicians to tell the truth. The lowest trust score was recorded in 2009 in the wake of the expenses scandal, when only 13% said they trusted politicians.
Other key findings include:
- Doctors remain the most trusted profession, with 89% of the public trusting them to tell the truth
- Other key public service professions are also highly trusted, including teachers (86%) Judges (80%) and the police (68%). Scientists (79%) are also highly trusted
- Public trust in the clergy continues to fall; they are now the eighth-most trusted profession, with 67% saying they trust them to tell the truth. Public trust has fallen by 18 percentage point since 1983, when the clergy were the most trusted profession.
- Hairdressers are one of the most trusted professions in Britain, with 69% saying they would trust them to tell the truth. This is the same level of trust as the police (68%), and much higher than other professions including charity chief executives (47%) and TV newsreaders (65%)
- Bankers are less trusted to tell the truth than builders; 42% said they would trust a builder, compared to 37% who said they would trust a banker. However trust in bankers has risen by eight percentage points since 2011.
- Public trust in pollsters has not been affected by the polling miss at the 2015 General Election, although they remain mid-table. 53% trust pollsters this year, the same level of trust as recorded in 2014
- The youngest generation is significantly less likely to trust the ordinary man/woman in the street than older generations. Fifty-six per cent of those born between 1980 and 2000 (“Generation Y”) trust the average person to tell the truth, twelve percentage points below the next-nearest generation (Generation X, 68%).
- Generation Y are however more likely than older generations to trust many other professions. These include Government Ministers, business leaders, estate agents and NHS managers.
Bobby Duffy, Director of the Social Research Institute at Ipsos said:
“Public trust in politicians remains steadfastly low, at the very bottom of the list of professions alongside Journalists, Government Ministers and Estate Agents. But it’s good to remind ourselves that this is not a “new crisis of trust” - from this long-running survey we can see that public trust has been an issue for politicians for at least the past 33 years. Other professions though have seen a long-term decline in trust, most notably the clergy, who were the most trusted profession when we started the series in 1983 and have fallen behind seven other groups, including scientists and, for the first time in this latest survey, the ordinary man or woman in the street. But it’s not all bad news – some groups have increased their level of trust, including some who are significantly up over recent years, like civil servants. This seems to be driven by younger groups being much more trusting, maybe reflecting the different context they’ve grown up in – a post-Yes Minister era. And perhaps most notably public trust in the ordinary man or woman in the street is at the highest level we’ve ever recorded. All generations have increased their level of trust – which is encouraging and important. We saw a big dip in trust in other people following the terrorist attacks in 2001, but we’re not seeing the same impact from recent terrorist activity.”
Technical note: Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample of 990 adults aged 18+ at 171 sampling points across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted face-to-face between 5th December 2015 and 4th January 2016. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.