NEWS23 February 2015

British public trust ONS statistics, ‘but not how they are used’

Features Government UK

UK — Research from NatCen Social Research has revealed that while 81% of Brits polled trusted the statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), only 28% felt the government presented these figures honestly when discussing policies.

Only 19% agreed that newspapers present official figures honestly. Of those who said they didn’t trust statistics produced by ONS, the most commonly reported reason was that the figures are “misrepresented by politicians or the media”.

Other findings from the research were that 85% of the public agreed that the Census accurately reflects changes in the UK, while only 63% said the same of crime statistics; and 71% of the public feel that official statistics should be made equally available to everybody at the same time.

“It is encouraging that our study has found that the public has relatively high levels of trust in the ONS and the figures that they produce,” said Ian Simpson, research director at NatCen. “However, evidence of widespread public scepticism in how statistics are presented by the government and media is cause for concern.

“As we approach the general election, where political parties will use all kinds of statistics in order to promote their agendas, our findings show how crucial it is that independent organisations are involved in the collection and presentation of data that help the public understand what is happening in the UK”.

The full report is available here.