Latest Public Sector News


Public think ‘representing local area’ is lowest priority for politicians – IfG

The public opinion of politicians is that they are less likely to be interested in representing their local area than in any other area, according to a new poll from the Institute for Government (IfG).

In the survey of over 2,000 British citizens, which asked them to identify what they thought was the biggest priority for UK politicians, almost half replied ‘scoring political points against other parties’.

This was followed by ‘getting re-elected’ and ‘making big announcements in the media’ as the most popular answers.

In contrast, just 11% felt politicians’ biggest priority was ‘representing their local area’, the same as when the survey was last carried out in 2014.

“Since the referendum, there have been questions about whether the gap between the so-called political elite and other people’s lives is fuelling dissatisfaction with our model of government,” the report said.

“One of the obvious places our MPs in Westminster can connect with the people they represent – and narrow this gap – is in their constituencies. But our polling suggests people don’t feel politicians prioritise this part of their role.

“In fact, only 11% of people actually think politicians prioritise representing their local area – compared to the 47% of people who think they prioritise scoring points against each other.”

However, the IfG pointed out that the number of people perceiving politicians as most interested in scoring political points had actually declined by four percentage points since 2014.

Similarly, 7% more people said ‘taking decisions about the long-term direction of the country’ was politicians’ biggest priority compared to 2014, and 5% more said it was ‘running government professionally’.

Scepticism around Brexit

Emma Norris, IfG programme director, said: “Our polling suggests than for now, trust in government is growing – more people believe politicians are focused on running government well than they did two years ago.

“But there is a lot of scepticism about whether the government will be able to deliver on some key Brexit and domestic policies. This could fast dent public confidence unless government can prove people wrong.

“Our polling shows people care more about delivery than big announcements. So they will want more to know more about what key policies on the economy, immigration, public services and social mobility actually mean in practice and most importantly - how they will be delivered. ‘Brexit means Brexit’ might not cut it for much longer.”

The survey also found that 85% of people want politicians to consult professionals and experts when making difficult decisions, and 83% want government to make decisions based on objective evidence.

People also expressed similar support for experts to be involved in decision-making regardless of whether they voted Remain or Leave in the EU referendum.

Similarly, 70% of Leave voters and 75% of Remain voters said it was more important for the government to demonstrate how it could make its policies work than to make big policy announcements.

(Image c. Kirsty Wigglesworth from AP/Press Association Images)

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.


Peter Waddell   19/09/2016 at 13:47

Does the response distinguish between national and local politicians?

Add your comment


public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >