Public confidence in government slumped since lockdown enforced, research shows

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  • October 7, 2020
  • Comments Off on Public confidence in government slumped since lockdown enforced, research shows

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Confidence in the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has slumped since the beginning of lockdown, research shows.

The proportion of people in England distrusting the Covid-19 response has doubled in six months to more than a half of individuals, a UCL study published on Thursday said.

Those reporting to have “no confidence at all” in Westminster has risen four-fold to more than a quarter of respondents.

The drop in confidence in the Westminster government does not appear to be matched in the Scottish and Welsh administrations led by Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford.

Faith in England appears not to have recovered since the early easing of lockdown and the much-criticised trip to Durham by the Prime Minister’s chief aide.

Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt said: “Confidence levels in the Government have decreased markedly in England since the beginning of lockdown.

“This loss of confidence could be down to perceived government mismanagement of the pandemic coupled with a high number of Covid-19 cases in England.

“Early easing of lockdown in England and scandals such as government adviser Dominic Cummings’ journey to Barnard Castle appear to have contributed to the fall.”

The research suggests confidence in the UK Government’s response was at its lowest in the most recent periods in the study, the second half of September.

Some 56 per cent recently reported having no confidence on balance in the Covid-19 response, up from 25 per cent at the start of lockdown on March 23.

The sharpest drops in confidence appeared to have happened in April towards the end of lockdown and as it was eased in May.

This also coincided with public knowledge of Mr Cummings’ potentially regulation-breaking movements at the height of the crisis, which was revealed by newspapers on May 22.

Only 6 per cent of people reported having no confidence at all in the Government’s handling in March, but this has increased to 27 per cent.

First ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford appear to command far greater confidence.

Those reporting to not have confidence on balance in the Scottish Government’s handling decreased from 33 per cent in March to 26 per cent at the end of September.

The research does suggest confidence in Scotland has declined in the past two weeks of the study and is down from a high in the middle of July.

In Wales, 26 per cent reported not having confidence at the start of lockdown, a figure which was nearly identical at the end of September at 25 per cent.

However, confidence does appear lower than a high in mid-August.

Dr Fancourt said: “The rising numbers of cases could also be to blame for the loss of confidence in Scotland and Wales, although both Scottish and Welsh devolved governments have seen a smaller reduction in confidence than the UK Government.

“This loss of confidence is deeply concerning as it is related to people’s willingness to follow guidelines and rules.

“It is vital that the Government listens to people’s concerns and tries to rebuild people’s trust.”

The findings come from UCL’s Covid-19 social study, which has surveyed more than 70,000 respondents over 28 weeks to understand the effects of the pandemic on the public.

Individuals in England were asked to rate how much confidence they had in the central Government’s handling from one, being not at all, to seven, lots.

In Scotland and Wales, the same question was asked but for the devolved administrations.