LGIU@40 Collection: Trust

Are we living in an age of post-trust politics?

This collection brings together some of LGIU’s past work on trust, it looks at why trust is so important to good governance and to public service delivery, examines the consequences of a “trust deficit” and considers how trust can be rebuilt.

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

LGIU’s 40th anniversary comes at what feels like a critical juncture for local government. Longstanding challenges such as finance and increased demand on services and infrastructure are butting up against more existential threats to communities like climate change, populism and unregulated, poorly understood technology.

Our LGIU@40 campaign, while utilising our unrivalled experience of working with local government is very much about the future. Identifying three core themes – participation, trust and finance – we have been working extensively with our members and the wider sector on a set of new ideas for how local government could work better in the future. A manifesto – to be published at the end of the year – will provide a blueprint for how we can move from aspiration to action and build the foundations that local government needs to navigate the challenging times we all face.

Trust is vital to good governance and to public service delivery. Trust creates space for innovation and collaboration, both of which are vital to enabling the sort of reform we need to see across local government. Tackling the many challenges facing local government requires us all to work on reducing the ‘trust deficit’.


ivy covered doors to an abandoned building framed to remind you of a half concealed face with blank eyes

Are we living in an age of post-trust politics?

What happens when we no longer trust our governments? Or when civic institutions no longer trust each other? In this article, as part of our LGIU@40 campaign, LGIU’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Carr-West, looks at declining trust levels and how local government can re-build trust. Read here.

This article is part of our LGIU@40 work looking at the future of local government – examining key questions about trust, democratic engagement and sustainable finance.

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Local government finance 💰

This edition highlights innovative practice and shares resources to help you make the best of your budget. We go beyond the bottom line with findings from LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre, which is currently exploring local government funding and finance systems from around the world.

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Local government and local people: creating a space for mutual trust

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Democratic wellbeing and local government – an opportunity to rebuild trust

Attitudes toward democracy, trust in decision-makers and distrust of media have featured heavily in public discourse recently. Last week Carnegie UK published new data on these issues and this blog discusses the relevance it holds to local government. Read here.

Are young people losing faith in democracy? It’s complicated…

Evidence shows that young people participate less in civic life than older people, they have low levels of trust in political leaders and they are hugely under-represented on elected bodies. This briefing examines the evidence around young people and their commitment to democracy and looks at both sides of the debate. Read here.

‘Trust me, I’m from the local council’: trust in public institutions

Democracy, the economy and public services all depend on trust but there are historically low levels of trust in politicians and political institutions. This report finds important differences in levels of trust by age group, gender and income bracket, which could impact on the effectiveness of policy making and communications. Read here.

Rethinking a plural, participatory ‘local state’

Dr Madeleine Pill discusses the state-society relationships of local governance and the need for better engagement between local governments and citizens. This article focuses on creating participatory spaces through institutional innovations, which broaden the range of agency, expertise and resources available to care for place. Read here.

Unravelling the importance of trust in government relationships

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Trust me, I work in local government

Sharing in LGIU’s 40th celebrations, Chris Elliott, Chief Executive at Warwick District Council reflects on his 40 years in local government and what has not changed. Highlighting the stagnant issues of the sector and growing mistrust, Chris argues that truthful practices need to be ingrained in all local government does going forward. Read here.

What has happened to the trust between the UK’s central and local government?

In this thought-provoking read, Cllr Baggy Shanker, Leader of Derby City Council, reflects on the deterioration of central and local government relationships and asks, what has happened to the trust in local government? In the midst of unprecedented pressures, he argues that the last thing the sector needs is more hoops to jump. Read here.

Trust: the ultimate currency

In this insightful think piece, Cllr Lorna Fielker, Deputy Leader at Southampton City Council, explores the value of trust in local government and how it is perhaps undervalued despite being so critical to achieving aspirations. Is it time to start asking tough questions about the mistrust running through the sector and our communities? Read here.

The foundations of trust and democracy are local

As we launch our local elections support with 10 weeks to go until the local elections, Ingrid Koehler reflects on trust and how local voting is an opportunity to build trust if we take a few simple steps. Read here.

Ipsos survey

LGIU’s polling on trust from our Ipsos survey explores how the public views the role of local councils and councillors and whether they trust them to act in the interests of their local area more than central government. Read here.

Voter ID and the question of trust

In this think piece, Dr. Greg Stride from LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre asks whether the implementation of voter ID in UK elections will resolve the increasing worry surrounding lost trust in elections and democracy as a whole. Read here.

Building trust

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Practical ways to support community participation in local decision-making

When done well, public participation and deliberation in local decision-making can achieve significantly better outcomes than top-down decisions imposed by distant actors and institutions. This briefing provides guidance to local government on designing and implementing effective public engagement projects which facilitates high-quality participation and deliberation. Read here.

The core principles of trust applied to local government

In this article, Dr Hannah Bunting, lecturer in Quantitative British Politics at the University of Exeter, outlines the core principles of trust, applying them to the context of local governance. Building on this further, Dr Greg Stride adds some additional insights from our Local Democracy Research Centre’s recent work. Read here.

Practical tips to get the most out of your community engagement

As councils across Australia are experiencing financial pressures, SGS Economics and Planning’s Liz Webster draws on her own experience to propose practical tips local governments can employ to optimise community engagement processes, reducing costs while still meeting community and legislative expectations. Read here.

Building Trust – bringing families and local authorities back together

In this new blog, Matt Buttery, CEO at Triple P, discusses the role of local authorities in assisting and nurturing families in their areas – with a focus on the evolution of Family Hubs and their opportunities. Read here.

Notwestminster – growing trust in local democracy

A strong local democracy relies on good relationships. That’s why the theme of the Notwestminster 2023 local democracy event on 18th February is all about trust. Find out how to get involved. Read here.

Global Local: Young people and democracy

This edition of Global Local examines young people’s view of democracy and how local government can better engage our youngest citizens. Read the full newsletter here.

Building social cohesion – creating connected and resilient communities

This briefing looks at the role of local government in building and strengthening social cohesion. Written with Cred Consulting, it draws on and shares insights from their resource that was prepared for the NSW Government through collaboration with representatives from NSW local government, Multicultural NSW and Resilient Sydney. Read here.

Music makes the world go round – the role of music in social cohesion, identity and wellbeing

Music has always been an integral part of human societies. This briefing looks at how music, particularly live music, can foster social cohesion, cultural traditions and identity, and health and wellbeing. It discusses how local government can support music participation, drawing on evidence and examples from around the world. Read here.

Green, amber or red? Scotland’s central and local government relations

Ahead of his contribution to the 2023 COSLA Conference Panel on “Our Relationship with Governments and Parliaments”, LGIU’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Carr-West, notes some initial takeaways from last week’s Programme for Government. Read here.

Fact or Fake? Tackling misinformation and disinformation

How can local authorities establish proactive measures to combat misinformation and disinformation? This briefing advises on the development of trusted, positive counter-narratives. Read here.