Trust in Democracy: How community groups bridge the gap between people and politics

Our latest research finds that community groups hold the key to rebuilding trust in politics and revitalising democracy.


About Trust in Democracy

Trust and engagement with UK politics are at an all time low. People are disconnected from remote national political structures, feeling they have little influence over them. Our research finds that only 25% of people “trust” Parliament, but 50% trust the overall democratic process.

How can we bridge the divide?

We found trust improves at a local level – with over half of people trusting their local MPs and councillors. The more community based the picture becomes, the better – 93% trust other people in their local area.

Community activity helps bridge the gap by giving people meaningful opportunities to get involved in things that matter to them. Perceptions of influence increase for those involved in their community. Volunteers are 46% more likely to feel they have an effect locally.

We surveyed hundreds of community organisations and a third of them said that their community involvement led onto more political roles, such as a councillor, school governor, or magistrate. One even went on to become a Deputy Mayor.

How can the new Government rebuild trust?

So we are calling on government to encourage and enable voluntary work for those not already involved, recognising and supporting the powerful role community groups have in building trust. The Government’s commitment to enabling more volunteering through employers could be a real force for change towards this aspiration, especially if it means more volunteering at a very local level.

Only then can we bridge the divide between people and politics – and start rebuilding trust in democracy.

How the research was conducted

Trust in democracy: how community groups bridge the gap between people and politics is a research report based on mixed research methods, undertaken by the Research Team at CDF.

The research methods comprised of three main strands:

  • We ran an online survey of groups and individuals from the community sector who receive CDF’s monthly newsletters. The survey was completed by 593 respondents.
  • We commissioned Coventry University to analyse data from the Community Life Survey 2012-13.
  • We conducted interviews with six individuals whose community involvement led to more formal roles in local civic activity.

Download the report


For further information

For more information please contact Daniel Pearmain, Research Manager at CDF on 020 7812 5450 or at