DESPITE growing criticism of the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, trust in it is at a record 20 year high.
Edelman UK found public confidence in the Government has surged and even “catapulted” Boris Johnson up 25 points in the last few months. This is the biggest leap in the study’s two decade history.
In contrast, trust in the business sector had suffered with the perception that CEOs have been absent and taken a backseat.
Prior to the pandemic, a poll in January showed that business was the most trusted institution when compared to government, media and NGOs.
Trust in the UK Government is up but it could be heading for a fall, Ed Williams president and CEO of Edelman
Analysts at Edelman believe the reason for this is where the public would expect the press, business and charities to take the lead when it comes to informing the public, providing an economic response and helping communities, it’s been the Government that’s filled these roles.
The most trusted voices have been doctors and scientists while World Health Organisation officials have taken a trust hit, down eight points.
Presenting the findings to an online panel of experts today, Ed Williams president and CEO of Edelman said that the Prime Minister’s dramatic personal struggle with the virus would be the likely reason for his popularity while the overall Government surge in trust was due to “the performance of the NHS, a strong economic response by the Treasury and clear Government communications early on in the first phase.”
But he warned the bubble could soon burst if the Government fails to manage the next phase with competency and clarity.
He said: “Underneath those numbers the picture is quite mixed. While the public believe the Government took the necessary action to keep the economy from collapsing in the initial “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives message” was well understood, the perception is that the UK has performed poorly on testing, poorly on PPE and has not adequately helped the sick living in the poorest areas, which to me rather suggests that while trust in Government in the UK is up, it could be heading for a fall.”
Responding to the findings, ex-MI6 chief Sir John Sawers said rather than showing trust in Government the results indicated hope.
He said: “Getting into lockdown and closing the economy is a whole lot easier than opening it up whilst the virus is still in the community. I think there are large elements in here of hope. People are looking to Government in the hope that the Government is going to be able to resolve these problems. I think that’s those trust numbers will come down as hopes are disappointed.”