Over a quarter of people in England have said that they have ‘no confidence at all’ in the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
That figure is up from just 6% at the start of lockdown, find UCL researchers as part of the Covid-19 Social Study.
It came as MPs launched an inquiry to scrutinise the Government response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Health and Social Care Committee will jointly conduct evidence sessions with the Science and Technology Committee to examine the effectiveness of the action taken by the Government and the advice it has received from experts.
Members will hear from witnesses about the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the social care sector as well as the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities.
Both committees will also look at the effectiveness of testing and contact tracing as well as the Government’s communications and public health messaging.
The number of people in England who ‘on balance’ do not have confidence in the government’s handling has also more than doubled in the last 6 months, from 25% at the start of lockdown to 56% now.
Less than 5% of respondents in England report having ‘full confidence’ in the government.
In Wales, confidence remains higher, with a quarter (25%) ‘on balance’ not having confidence in the Welsh Government, an almost identical figure to the start of lockdown (26%).’.
Levels of ‘full confidence’ in the Scottish Government remain higher than at the start of lockdown (17% vs. 10%) but have fallen significantly since the peak of 34% in July.
Lead author of the study, Dr Daisy Fancourt said:“Confidence levels in the government have decreased markedly in England since the beginning of lockdown.
“This loss of confidence could be down to perceived government mismanagement of the pandemic coupled with a high number of Covid-19 cases in England. Early easing of lockdown in England and scandals such as government adviser Dominic Cummings’ journey to Barnard Castle appear to have contributed to the fall.
“This loss of confidence is deeply concerning as it is related to people’s willingness to follow guidelines and rules. So it is vital that the government listens to people’s concerns and tries to rebuild people’s trust.”
Greg Clark, who is the chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, said the pending inquiry: “We are very focused on being able to find and learn lessons during the course of the pandemic that can be applied to decisions that might be coming up further down the road.
“The Prime Minister has committed to a public inquiry but, clearly, that has some way to go before it even starts, let alone concludes, and whatever lessons and conclusions are learnt from that, it is likely to be observed to be too late for the weeks and months ahead.
“So we want to be able to, in a constructive way, feed back what we learn from witnesses in this country and around the world.”
The weekly evidence session is set to begin on October 13, with recommendations expected to be published around springtime next year.
Jeremy Hunt, who is chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee, said: “We are going to start next week with a focus on the social care sector.
“That’s incredibly important because we know we had a number of issues in care homes last time round.”
He added: “In most of our sessions, we will be talking to frontline workers and members of the public who have been directly affected by coronavirus in one way or another.”
Other key areas which will face scrutiny are the deployment of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as lockdown and social distancing rules to manage the pandemic, as well as the development of treatments and vaccines.
In addition, the committees will also look at modelling and the use of statistics, as well as the UK’s prior preparedness for a pandemic.