How bad is the UK's trust in politicians compared to other Western countries?

·2-min read
Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London, to attend his penultimate Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament. Picture date: Wednesday July 13, 2022.
Trust in the British government was lower than the OECD average. (Getty)

Trust in the UK government is significantly lower than in other developed nations, a new study has found.

Just 35% of the UK population trusts the national government, a level considerably lower than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 41%.

Norway recorded the highest trust in government in the OECD at 64%, and Colombia had the lowest at 20%.

The research came as part of the OECD's inaugural Survey on the Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions. The project tried to measure how people felt about their governments and whether they felt their politicians were trustworthy.

Read more: Tory leadership election: Who's still in the race and when is the vote?


Some 22 countries were included. The research found that in OECD countries as a whole, trust had taken a hit due to the impact of the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis – but was still slightly higher than after the 2007 financial crash.

On average around half of people trust their government and half do not.

The report found people are more likely to trust public institutions like the police or the NHS rather than elected officials or political parties.

Read more: Families 'resorting to stealing baby formula due to cost of living crisis’, government warned

In the UK, 35% of people trust the national government but this rises to 42% for local government and 55% for the civil service.

Trust in public services was far higher with 68% having faith in the legal system and a massive 80% trusting the NHS.

More than half of the UK population was satisfied with the country’s public services, with the exception of social care services.

More than two-thirds (69%) reported being satisfied with the NHS, higher than the OECD average for health services (62%).

Four in five Brits trust the NHS. (Getty)
Four in five Brits trust the NHS. (Getty)

The authors of the OECD report found across all 22 countries younger people, women, people from lower income backgrounds or ethnic minorities were less likely to trust their government.

One of the core reasons people did not trust their governments is because they felt like their leaders did not do enough to tackle their concerns.

Just under four in 10 respondents said that their government would improve a poorly performing service, implement an innovative idea, or change a national policy in response to public demands.

They also found many people found the integrity of their government an issue with almost half of respondents thinking a high-level political official would grant a political favour in exchange for the offer of a well-paid private sector job.

The authors noted that low levels of trust were not necessarily all bad because only in a free democratic society would people feel comfortable sharing their dislike of their leaders, whereas in autocratic countries they may keep it to themselves.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting