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SOCIAL FABRIC

Good Neighbours: How do levels of hyper-local trust vary and why does it matter?

Good Neighbours uses an exclusive poll of over 42,000 people across the country to measure social trust at a hyper-local level and reveals shocking variation between places.
James Blagden, Luke Stanley
January 13, 2023
Good Neighbours: How do levels of hyper-local trust vary and why does it matter?

“The Prime Minister has said that he wants to build the strength and resilience of our communities. Our new research helps to understand the scale of the challenge and begin tackling it. Social trust underpins a healthy democracy, strong economy, and vibrant communities. Our data shows that in too many places this vital trust is lacking. That’s why boosting it should be a guiding mission for the Government.”

Adam Hawksbee

What connects people in Sheffield, Bristol and the Wirral?

They’re all good neighbours.

  • Ecclesall in Sheffield is the most trusting neighbourhood in England. Followed by Henleaze in Bristol and Heswall in the Wirral.
  • Marsh Green in Wigan is the least trusting neighbourhood.
  • There are huge differences within parts of the country – Sheffield contains neighbourhoods in the top 5% and bottom 5% for levels of trust.

Social trust is the fabric that holds societies together, but its importance is often underestimated. The presence of good neighbours is vital for a strong community, and their absence is a warning light on the dashboard of a developed economy.  

Trust is a key metric for levelling up but until now has been difficult to measure. Good Neighbours uses a large sample survey and advanced statistical techniques to develop estimates of trust at a local level. Over 42,000 people were asked: “Generally speaking, would you say that people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?”

Ecclesall in Sheffield is the most trusting neighbourhood in England. 

Ecclesall in Sheffield has the highest levels of trust. 62.11% of residents say they always or usually trust others and 32.71% say you always or usually can’t be too careful – a net trust score of +29.39%. Runners-up were Henleaze in Bristol (+29.27%), Heswall in the Wirral (+28.51%), and Appleton in Warrington (+28.05%). 

Marsh Green in Wigan is the least trusting neighbourhood in England. 

Laithwaite and Marsh Green in Wigan came out bottom of the ranking with only 27.98% of people saying you can always or usually trust others, compared to 66.34% saying you always or usually can’t be too careful – a net trust score of -38.36%. Other low scorers were Bentilee and Ubberley in Stoke-on-Trent (-37.97%), Grangetown in Redcar & Cleveland (-35.35%), and Pendleton in Salford (-34.84%).

good neighbours most and least trusting areas

There are huge differences within communities. Sheffield contains neighbourhoods that are in the top 5% and bottom 5% for levels of trust. 

The data also reveals shocking levels of variation within particular parts of the country. Sheffield is the most unequal local authority in England, with net trust scores ranging from +29% to -31% (a gap of 60 percentage points). The most equal local authority is Rutland, where net social trust only varies between +1% and +12%.

Some high-trust neighbourhoods exist right alongside low-trust neighbourhoods. If you travel just a short distance from Golders Green to Tottenham, or from central Oldham to Delph (on the outskirts of the town), the proportion of people who say they trust others almost halves.

 

We are publishing the dataset as open data.

We have published the dataset openly to allow others to analyse it and create their own maps and graphs. Head over to our GitHub page to look at the results for your neighbourhood. Please credit Onward if you use the data

We are particularly grateful to the team at FocalData for their work producing the neighbourhood estimates. Any errors in interpretation or analysis are the author’s own.

Social Fabric

Repairing the ties that bind communities together.

Good neighbours was produced as part of our Social Fabric research programme.

A landmark programme to understand the changing nature of community in different parts of the UK, and explore ways to repair the social fabric of different places in meaningful and practical ways.

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