6 December - A TNS poll for Tearfund this week found the unemployed to be more honest in society, when it comes to some everyday scruples. When asked if they would keep quiet when given too much change, 54% of people not working said they wouldn’t keep quiet, compared with 41% of those in work.
Tearfund, a Christian relief and development agency, asked more than 1200 people some straight forward questions on personal integrity ahead of UN Anti-Corruption Day (9 Dec).
The UK poll asked whether people would report an error in a bank account, crediting a refund twice. 56% of people out of work say they would report it, while only 39% of those in work would do so. When it comes to a supermarket self-service checkout error not charging for an item, although less than half, it’s still the unemployed (45%) who are more likely to own up than those working (37%).
Other interesting results find that less than half of people polled would tell the bank if the cash machine gave us more than our account was debited. And among 16-24 year olds only 28% would tell the bank, contrasting with 51% of people over 65.
More reassuringly, only 19% of young people (under 24) would wear a newly purchased item of clothing and return it - and just 5% of those over 64. However, just over two thirds of us (67%) have no problem using the office stationery or photocopier for our own use.
Tearfund is campaigning against corruption, which has a huge impact on many of the world’s poorest communities and destroys many efforts to tackle poverty. The Christian relief and development agency commissioned the poll to bring the issues closer to home.
“Corruption is a global problem, and a scourge on society, which we all rightly condemn in others,” says Laura Taylor, Tearfund’s Head of Public Policy. “But perhaps this poll shows us that we too are tempted to take more than we should if we think we can get away with it. And while these examples don’t have a massive effect on others, widespread corruption costs Africa around £3,000 a second."
Put simply, it’s what people get away with when no one is looking. Tearfund says people may argue that some of the findings are acceptable behaviour, or try to justify them.
“That’s a debate we might spark,” says Laura. “But when corruption on a much larger scale is explained away, accepted or ignored, then society rightly takes notice. There’s a public outcry.
“In countries where people can’t see how money is being spent, corruption can have a drastic effect on society and specifically on the poorest communities. It compounds poverty by undermining a community’s development. That’s why Tearfund is campaigning for strong EU transparency legislation for oil, gas and mining companies to publish what they pay in each country they work in. We are also asking the UK government to take strong action against corruption at next year’s G8.”
Tearfund is working to address this both within local communities and globally by urging governments to close loopholes that frequently create the opportunity for corruption. The agency says corruption, in the long term, denies people basic services such as health care and education; communities don’t benefit from their country’s natural resources; and tax is misdirected or hidden away in off-shore havens.
For more on Tearfund’s anti-corruption campaign go to www.tearfund.org/corruption
Notes to Editors
The poll was carried out by TNS UK for Tearfund. Data was gathered between 29 November and 3 December from 1259 respondents across the UK, aged 16+. The full results to the following questions can be seen at:www.tearfund.org/tnshonestypoll
If no one is going to notice would you:
a) keep quiet when given too much change?
b) use the office photocopier or stationery for personal use?
c) wear a newly purchased item of clothing at an event, and then return it?
d) do nothing when your bank account shows a refund has been credited twice into your account (i.e. for a returned coffee maker, item of clothing or TV)?
e) tell the bank if the cash machine gave you more cash than you asked for but only took out the amount you asked for from your account?
f) not mention the supermarket self-service checkout error that doesn’t charge your card for an item?
For interviews or further information contact Jonathan Spencer on 07767 473516 or 020 8943 7901 (out of hours call 07710 573749).
Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency building a global network of local churches to help eradicate poverty. Tearfund is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee.