Trust in practice

Politicians of all political parties are committed to devolving power to local government. This will require improving public trust in politics and politicians. The success of devolution depends on residents trusting their local councils enough to engage in decision making and welcome greater devolution.

This pamphlet presents the second phase of our research into public trust in local government. It builds on the new typology of ‘truster types’ presented in State of Trust and shows councils how to develop tailored trust-building strategies. Returning to three of the four local authority areas from State of Trust, this phase analyses ‘trust in practice’ by looking at local decisions that have resulted in improved levels of trust.

Drawing on new research, we argue that structural reforms and accountability measures will not alone restore trust in politics. The importance of personal interactions and the nuance of behavioural values to public trust requires that councils put relationships at the heart of the equation. Local government representatives need to move beyond mechanistic thinking of ways to “build” trust, toward providing the opportunity and space where they can demonstrate their trustworthiness.