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Four in five trust official statistics, but not how they are presented by Government

27 February 2017 | Tags: British Social Attitudes, official statistics


Four in five (78%) of people with an opinion on official statistics say they are accurate and only slightly fewer (70%) believe that they are free from political interference, new findings from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey reveals today.

The NatCen survey, carried out on behalf of the United Kingdom Statistics Authority, found, however, that the public do not trust the presentation of official statistics by either Government or newspapers.

-       Of those able to give an opinion, one in four (26%) trust Government to present official statistics honestly when talking about its policies.

-       One in five (18%) trust newspapers to present official figures honestly.

The public was also found to be more sceptical about certain types of statistics. Of those who expressed a view, fewer than half thought that crime (48%) and employment (46%) statistics were free from political interference. While three quarters (76%) thought this of the Census.

Ian Simpson, Senior Researcher at NatCen Social Research, said

“Our findings show high levels of public trust in the important data collected by the ONS on British society and the economy. The public clearly thinks, however, that issues arise when Government and newspapers get involved – especially where the results might be politically sensitive such as on employment or crime levels”.


The report is freely available here.

For more information please contact Leigh Marshall: or 0207 549 8506; or Sophie Brown: or 0207 549 9550


NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.

Sample and approach – The 2016 British Social Attitudes survey consisted of 2,942 interviews with a representative, random sample of adults in Britain. 1,968 people answered the questions about official statistics. Interviewing was carried out between July and November 2016.