Trust in Trouble? UK and international confidence in institutions
30 March 2023
The UK has internationally low levels of confidence in its political institutions, with confidence in parliament in particular halving since 1990, new data shows. Of more than 20 countries included in a study by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, the UK fares poorly on confidence in the government, political parties, parliament and the civil service. Added to this, younger generations have experienced some of the biggest shifts in attitudes: confidence in the government among Millennials in Britain has halved since 2005, falling to its lowest level on record in 2022, and Gen Z have very low levels of confidence in a wide range of institutions. But while perceptions of domestic political institutions are particularly negative, Britons’ views of the EU have become increasingly positive post-Brexit – to the extent that the public are now far more likely to have confidence in the EU (39%) than in parliament (23%) or the government (24%), with confidence rising among all generations, including older cohorts. The new research also looks beyond politics, at perceptions of other key institutions, and finds: Of 24 countries, only Egypt (8%) has lower levels of confidence in the press than the UK (13%). UK confidence in the police is low compared with other peer nations, and has fallen from 87% in 1981 to 67% in 2022. The analysis was carried out as part of the World Values Survey (WVS), one of the largest and most widely used academic social surveys in the world, in operation since 1981. The latest UK data was collected in 2022, with data for other nations collected at various points throughout the latest wave of the WVS, which spanned 2017 to 2022.