Trust in civil service grows fastest among top professions

Written by Beckie Smith on 20 November 2018 in News

The trust gap between officials and ministers is the widest it has been in the survey's history

Photo: Pixabay

Civil servants have seen the biggest rise in public trust of any profession in Britain over the last 35 years, according to an Ipsos Mori poll that shows Labour voters put more faith in officials than Conservative supporters.

The 2018 Veracity Index also shows the trust gap between civil servants and government ministers is wider than it has been at any point since the ranking launched in 1983. Sixty-two per cent of survey respondents said they trusted civil servants to tell the truth, up from 59% in 2017 and 56% in 2016 – compared with 22% who said the same of government ministers, and just 19% said they trusted “politicians generally.

The polling company asked 1,001 British adults to say whether they thought people in 24 professions told the truth or not.


Trust in civil servants has risen for the past two consecutive years, up from 59% in 2017 and 56% in 2016. It shot up by 37 percentage points since the survey was first introduced, Ipsos Mori said – more than any other profession. Trust in trade union officials has risen by 27 points over the same period, and scientists have seen a 22-point bump since 1997.

The poll also showed trust in civil servants was higher among Labour supporters than Conservative supporters – 70% said they believed civil servants told the truth, compared with 56% who aligned themselves with the Tory party.

And more people who voted to remain in the EU in the Brexit referendum said they trusted officials than people who voted leave – 67% compared with 55%.

Nursing is the most highly-trusted profession in Britain, according to the survey, in which 96% of respondents said they would believe nurses were telling the truth. Doctors followed, at 92%, with teachers, engineers and professors making up the top five.

Civil servants were also outranked in the survey by judges, members of the armed forces and the police, but came ahead of pollsters, charity chief executives and bankers.

They also scored much more favourably than ministers and other politicians, who are both in the bottom five, along with estate agents, journalists and advertising executives.

The survey findings show “simplistic narratives that ‘trust is in crisis’ need to be unpacked”, said Gideon Skinner, research director at Ipsos Mori.

The data shows trust in many professions has risen over time, as it has for civil servants, he said.

“Trust is a huge topic with implications for society, government and business and it cannot be reduced to a single figure,” he added.

Ipsos Mori will publish a report examining what the data says about public attitudes on trust next spring, it said.

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Beckie Smith
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Beckie Smith is a reporter for CSW who tweets Beckie__Smith.

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