Majority of public do not trust government to manage pandemic, survey finds

6 December 2020, 08:12

Most of the population have said they do not trust the government with the pandemic
Most of the population have said they do not trust the government with the pandemic. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The majority of the British public does not trust the Government to manage the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has suggested.

Research found that 57% of people said they do not trust the UK Government to control the spread of Covid-19 - the first time since April that distrust has become the majority view in the country, according to a series of studies.

The finding is based on research by King's College London and Ipsos Mori involving 2,244 interviews with UK residents aged 16-75 carried out online between November 20 and 24.

Data shows there has been a significant increase in the proportion who believe the response to Covid-19 has been confused and inconsistent - up to 68%, from 42% at the beginning of the crisis.

About 40% think the Government has adapted badly to the changing scientific information and situation - more than double the 15% who said the same in early April.

Just over half the population (51%) think the Government's handling of the crisis has been a national humiliation - twice as many as those who disagree (26%).

Half said they are angry with the Government because of how it has handled the crisis, compared with a quarter who do not feel this way.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) think the Government failed to prepare properly for a second wave of infections, while 47% think ministers have prioritised some parts of the country over others in its response.

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The survey also found that 45% think the Government has done a bad job of protecting young people's futures during the pandemic, and 46% think ministers have done a bad job of protecting elderly or vulnerable people's health.

Despite these views, more people still support (44%) than oppose (25%) the Government's current approach to controlling coronavirus - virtually unchanged since July when this question was last asked by the researchers.

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King's College London, said: "Trust in authority is key to maintaining compliance with the unprecedented restrictions that the public are being asked to live with and building a sense of collective responsibility.

"The UK Government began this crisis with seven in 10 people saying they trusted its handling of the pandemic - but it has haemorrhaged public confidence ever since.

"Now, for the first time, a majority say they distrust its management of the crisis.

"Some of the reasons for this shift are clear - around two-thirds think the Government failed to prepare properly for a second wave of coronavirus infections and the same proportion think its approach has been confused and inconsistent.

"These perceived failings have provoked strong feelings in many people, with half of the public saying they think the handling of the pandemic has been a national humiliation, and the same proportion saying they're angry with the Government because of its response.

"However, despite all the negative and declining ratings, nearly half the public say they support the Government's approach, almost twice the proportion that oppose it, and virtually unchanged from July.

"So while perceptions of the Government are declining, support for the actual measures are not - which reflects the incredible ongoing commitment among the majority of the public to controlling the spread of the virus."