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More than half of Britons believe people can be trusted, survey finds

Higher levels of trust are said to be linked to having a larger social network.

Britain has become a more trusting society, with more than half of the population believing that people can be trusted, figures suggest.

The latest data from the National Centre for Social Research’s (NatCen) British social attitudes survey shows that 54% of the population believe that people can be trusted, the highest level since researchers began asking the question in 1998.

The proportion of people saying that people can almost always or usually be trusted has remained relatively stable at around 45%.

People with degrees (64%) and in managerial or professional social classes (63%) are more likely than those with few or any formal qualifications (42%), or in routine or manual jobs (41%), to say that on the whole they think other people can be trusted.

The research also finds that higher social trust is associated with having a larger social network.

On the question of politics, the survey found that 49% of people aged 55 or over and 54% of those with no formal qualifications want to leave the EU, compared with 23% of those aged 18 to 34 and 19% of graduates.

Despite these divides, the EU referendum has not led to a rise in English nationalism, as 13% of people in England describe themselves as English, not British, the lowest level since 1997.

The most popular category remains “Equally English and British” at 41%.

In terms of work and welfare, 70% think the Government should top up wages of low earning single parents, 58% think they should top up the wages of low-earning working couples with children and 71% want the minimum wage increased.

More than half (56%) think that cutting welfare benefits would damage too many people’s lives.

Support for an increase to unemployment benefits is also the highest it has been for 15 years, with 20% saying the Government should spend more.

Researchers asked if it is acceptable for a man to make uninvited comments about a woman’s appearance in the street.

Just 8% of the population think it is rarely or never wrong for a stranger in the street to tell a woman that she “looks gorgeous today”, while 57% say it is always or usually wrong and 27% think these comments are sometimes wrong.

A total of 93% believe that the world’s climate is definitely or probably changing.

The figures say 25% of people are very or extremely worried about climate change, 45% are only somewhat worried, and 28% are either not very or at all worried about it.

Roger Harding, head of public attitudes for the NatCen, said: “Despite our internal battles over Brexit, our trust in each other is at the highest level in nearly two decades.

“In these times of economic uncertainty we want the Government to protect families on low wages.

“There is little mistaking how politically divided we are between the young and more formally educated who want a close relationship with the EU and see more benefits in immigration, and older people and those with few qualifications who take the complete opposite view.”

He added: “The proportion of people in England who see themselves as English and not British is at the lowest level in two decades.

“Commentators have talked about a surge in English nationalism due to Brexit, but that’s not obvious from these numbers.

“It remains to be seen if the World Cup brings out a fresh wave of English patriotism.”

The survey consisted of 3,988 interviews with a sample of adults in Britain.

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