The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals the largest-ever drop in trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs. Trust in media (43 percent) fell precipitously and is at all-time lows in 17 countries, while trust levels in government (41 percent) dropped in 14 markets and is the least trusted institution in half of the 28 countries surveyed. The credibility of leaders also is in peril: CEO credibility dropped 12 points globally to an all-time low of 37 percent, plummeting in every country studied, while government leaders (29 percent) remain least credible.

The Trust Barometer found that 53 percent of respondents believe the current overall system has failed them—it is unfair and offers little hope for the future—while only 15 percent believe it is working, and approximately one-third are uncertain.

The survey is Edelman’s 17th annual trust and credibility survey, measuring trust across a number of institutions, sectors and geographies. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer surveyed more than 33,000 respondents across 28 countries.

Key findings include:

  • It is now evident that we have underinvested in the levers of trust across the board. We are experiencing a total collapse in trust in the institutions that shape our society. Trust in the UK is at a historic low at 29 per cent.
  • Trust is in an accelerating spiral of decline. Data from the closing days of 2016 and first week of the New Year shows an unparalleled plunge of 11 percentage points in a matter of weeks.
  • Attitudes to institutions are no longer defined by left and right, but by a political realignment around those who have “faith in the system” and those who don’t.
  • There is an unprecedented feeling in the UK that life is not as fair as it used to be. Only one in nine of the UK population think that the system still works, and globally half of those that are high-income, university educated and well-informed. Faith in the system is not about income anymore.
  • Loss of belief in the system appears to be fuelled by growing fears of forces beyond our control: immigration, the erosion of societal values and the pace of technological change.
  • Trust in authority is draining away and being replaced by trust in those closest to us and most like us. The UK population trusts their family and friends over four times more than political parties and leaders.
  • Politicians and the government are in real trouble – people don’t think they are the solution – they simply don’t trust them.
  • Trust in politicians is close to rock bottom, with Theresa May the only politician trusted by just over a third of the population. No other politician scored higher than 25%.
  • Business needs to lead. It is just about standing at 33 per cent, but will lose trust unless it engages with the people, and demonstrates solutions to public concerns.
  • The majority of people believe blunt, outspoken, spontaneous straight-talkers over rehearsed and diplomatic communicators.
  • Business should expect UK government intervention as seven in 10 believe the government should impose trading restrictions to prevent job losses.
  • 71% believe the government should protect jobs and local industries in the UK, even if the economy suffers.
  • Trust in media amongst Informed Publics is at a low, only surpassed in 2011 in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, at only 28 per cent.
  • Trust has been so corroded that we now trust leaked information much more than traditional news sources; and algorithms over human editors.
  • There is a consensus that now the UK has taken the plunge to leave Europe, we should get on with it.
  • A repeat of the EU Referendum would yield the same result; 87% of Leave voters are still sure of their vote, and 88% of Remainers would make the same vote.
  • Brexit still divides the UK: 31 per cent are more confident about their future, 36 per cent more worried, and 29 per cent remain neutral.
  • The UK is united in its attitude towards Trump. Fewer than one in five think he will have a positive effect on stability in the world, the global economy, the lives of our children, national finances and society in general.


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For further data and analysis, you can view the full UK results for the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017 here or see the deck below: