CIPFA calls for more honesty in election debate as YouGov poll shows little trust in Westminster politicians


The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has today issued a call for greater transparency from Westminster parties around their spending reduction plans. The call comes as a YouGov survey for the Institute released today showed the stark lack of trust in Westminster’s politicians. 

The survey showed that while trust in politicians was low across the board, local politicians were twice as likely to be trusted as national figures and revealing that just 16% of the UK population trust politicians based in Westminster to allocate spending of budgets within regions while 32% trust local elected politicians to do this.

The survey also showed that over three quarters (78%) of the UK population said that accountability for local expenditure on public services should be placed at a local level rather than central government with 77% of the UK population believing that regions and local areas should be in control of their own budget and spending.

Responding to the survey results Rob Whiteman, CIPFA’s CEO, said:

“It is worrying that trust in Westminster’s political class is quite so low. However given the paucity of financial information behind so many of the parties’ manifesto commitments and how lacking in detail their spending plans are, it is scarcely surprising that most people in the UK want decisions on spending made as close to the people they affect as possible.

“This survey also demonstrates why CIPFA has been calling for greater devolution of financial powers from Westminster to local areas. The public want it and it now must fall to Westminster politicians to deliver this devolution if they are to restore the trust of people and communities up and down the country.

“Importantly this devolution must not only be over spending, in effect the power to decide where to cut, but also the power over how to raise funds to be used locally. If we are to address the trust deficit in UK politics we need to empower local leaders to make the decisions communities want and to be held accountable for their choices.”

Ahead of the general election, CIPFA as the voice of the finance profession in public services, commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey on trust in government spending. 

The survey data showed that: 

  • Only 16% of the UK population trusted politicians at Westminster a great deal or a fair amount to allocate spending of budgets within regions versus 32% who trusted local elected politicians.
  • A majority (77%) of those polled believe that regions and local areas should be in control of their own budget and spending.
  • Over three quarters (78%) of the UK population state that accountability of local expenditure should be placed at a local level rather than central government.
  • With the recent changes to regional power on health service budget control, 40% of the UK population believe as a result of devolving power the service will become more efficient, while a fifth argue less efficient (18%).
  • When asked about local taxation, a local council tax increase met with a high proportion of opposition – with 68% of council tax payers opposing an overall increase in council tax of more than 2%.
  • However when the increase is specified to a particular service in the community there is an increase in support, with:

   33% of council tax payers supporting a rise in council tax to protect local libraries

   61% support for if it was earmarked for care for the elderly

   52% backing an increase if it was earmarked for maintenance of roads and repairs.


Notes to editors:

The survey

The survey was conducted online using YouGov Plc internal panel of 350,000 individuals in total. 2002 respondents were randomly selected to answer the online interview. The respondents’ answers were weighted to be representative of the UK population. The fieldwork was conducted 13 March – 16 March 2015 with the final report issued in mid-April.