Frontline public sector staff can be trusted, but trust in the organizations they work for is declining. This distrust of ‘the system’ leads the public to view leaders and managers as incompetent. This is a key finding from a MORI survey for the Audit Commission.NHS hospitals scored the highest trust rating with a 79% positive response. Trust in the police was 74% and in local councils 48%.
The main factors which drive the public’s trust in public organizations are the quality of service and the perceived honesty and competence. The survey showed that the performance of NHS hospitals were rated as good by 70%, the police 60% and local councils by 40%. The public’s view is influenced by the quality of information about the services and particularly the availability of independent information evaluating their performance.
The Audit Commission report identifies the key issues to be addressed. For local councils the quality of leadership is seen as significant. Councils also need to admit when they are wrong and learn from mistakes. They should also keep their promises and take a greater interest in the views of the public. The police need to keep people better informed and to treat people equally regardless of race, religion or colour.
The Local Government Association in a response to the report said that councils need to be better at communicating and promoting their achievements to local people. The Association also criticised Ministers for the negative messages about local government including recent statements about school funding and council tax rises.