Business View: Page 21 There are lies, damned lies and statistics, but people are more likely than not to believe official figures, it was claimed yesterday.
According to the latest survey on public confidence in such statistics published by the Office for National Statistics, 37 per cent of people agree that figures are generally accurate, 31 per cent disagree, while 32 per cent are unable to give an opinion.
However, only 17 per cent believe that official figures are produced without political interference and only 14 per cent say the Government uses official figures honestly.
The results are from a survey of 1,700 people aged 16 and over who were asked about the level of trust they had in Government statistics, Government institutions and certain public officials.
Some statistical series, institutions and officials were trusted more than others. The most frequent reason given for trusting figures was that they were easy to measure or that there was a perceived absence of any vested interest in their production. The most common reasons for not trusting statistics are that they contradicted personal experience or that they are perceived to be open to manipulation.
Overall, the level of trust in Government institutions was lower than that for official statistics.
Respondents were also asked how much they trusted various institutions - the Civil Service, the Government, the police, the courts, and the National Health Service.
The Government was the least trusted, along with the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive in their respective countries.
Although NHS hospital waiting lists were the least trusted set of figures, the NHS was the most trusted institution.