In God we used to trust, but now we prefer a hairdresser

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Repeated scandals to hit the establishment have eroded trust so dramatically that more people now expect their hairdressers to tell the truth than a police officer.

The salon chair has replaced the confessional, with stylists more trusted than priests, charity bosses, NHS managers and bankers.

The clergy in particular have fallen dramatically. The most trusted occupation a generation ago, they are now considered more likely to lie than doctors, teachers, judges and scientists.

The Veracity Index, carried out by the pollster Ipsos MORI, has been charting levels of public trust since 1983.

The latest survey shows that 69 per cent of people trust their hairdresser to tell the truth, perhaps reflecting the hope that they will be honest about whether a change in style is a good idea. This is higher than the police (68 per cent), charity chief executives (47 per cent) and TV newsreaders (65 per cent).

Women are more trusting of their hairdresser (71 per cent) than men (68 per cent).

It is perhaps no surprise that politicians remain the least trusted profession, with only 21 per cent of people thinking they will be honest, just behind estate agents and journalists, both on 25 per cent.

Bobby Duffy, director of the Social Research Institute at Ipsos MORI, said: “Public trust in politicians remains steadfastly low . . . but it’s good to remind ourselves that this is not a ‘new crisis of trust’. From this long-running survey we can see that public trust has been an issue for politicians for at least the past 33 years.

“Other professions, though, have seen a long-term decline in trust, most notably the clergy, who were the most trusted profession when we started the series in 1983 and have fallen behind seven other groups.”

Three decades ago, 85 per cent of people trusted priests to be truthful, but the figure has fallen to 67 per cent. The clergy has been overtaken by doctors (89 per cent) and scientists (67 per cent).

The results coincide with a sharp change in Britain’s relationship with the church. A separate survey earlier this month suggested that most white Britons have no religion.

Financial scandals, including the banking crisis and MPs’ expenses, have hit trust in parts of society which once enjoyed unquestioning deference from the public. A catalogue of cases of historical sex abuse have also damaged the church, the BBC and parliament.

Instead of putting an elite on a pedestal solely because of their occupation, members of the public are now more likely to trust each other. Public trust in the ordinary man or woman in the street is at the highest level Ipsos MORI has recorded. More than two thirds (68 per cent) would expect the ordinary man or woman in the street to be honest, although this varies between age groups.

Eight years after the financial crash, bankers are also enjoying a rehabilitation, albeit a slow one, with 37 per cent trusting them to tell the truth, up eight percentage points since 2011.

By their works . . .

Most trusted occupations

Doctors 89%

Teachers 86%

Judges 80%

Scientists 79%

Hairdressers 69%

Least trusted occupations

Politicians 21%

Government ministers 22%

Estate agents 25%

Journalists 25%

Business leaders 35%