UK among least corrupt countries but report warns Government strategy is lacking

The UK, including its institutions, are one of the ten least corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International's annual world corruption perceptions index.

The Government must do more to tackle corruption, warns Transparency International (©fuzzbones0/ThinkstockPhotos)
The Government must do more to tackle corruption, warns Transparency International (©fuzzbones0/ThinkstockPhotos)
Britain’s institutions were awarded 81 points out of a maximum of 100, putting them in joint tenth place with Luxembourg and Germany out of a list of 176 countries.

Among the worst performing countries for corruption were Somalia, in last place, North Korea and Syria, while Demark and New Zealand held joint first place on the list.

At an anti-corruption summit, hosted by then Prime Minister David Cameron last May, the Government pledged to take a number of measures to tackle corruption.

These included a public central register of company beneficial ownership information and highlighted the existence of its joint money-laundering intelligence taskforce, which has law enforcement, regulators and the banks among its officials.

The Government also said it would work with other countries to establish an international anti-corruption coordination centre and that it was consulting on asset recovery legislation, including confiscation orders and ‘unexplained wealth orders’.

In addition, it said it would develop a cross-government anti-corruption strategy by the end of 2016, which would set out its long-term vision for tackling corruption. 

However, the strategy has not yet been made public and a spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office could only say that it would be published "in due course".

Transparency International said the Government must now make good on its commitment to set out its anti-corruption strategy and that a minor drop in the UK’s score in future could see it drop out of the top ten.

If the Strategy is weak or further delayed, the UK will risk dropping out of the top ten. A strategy is both a signal of intent and a roadmap to fight the menace of corruption.

Robert Barrington, executive director, Transparency International UK 

Robert Barrington, Transparency International UK executive director, said: "The UK has rightly aimed to be amongst the top 10 in the global anti-corruption league table, but there is work to do to keep this ranking. The Government promised to publish a national Anti-Corruption Strategy by the end of 2016, but this has yet to appear, and if the Strategy is weak or further delayed, the UK will risk dropping out of the top ten. A strategy is both a signal of intent and a roadmap to fight the menace of corruption."

Barrington warned the Government must not allow the uncertainty created by Brexit to derail its plans to tackle corruption.

He said: "The uncertainty posed by Brexit has the potential to encourage a ‘business at any cost’ trade strategy; such an approach would be a disaster for UK’s long-term reputation as a leading anti-corruption player... the UK should now be seeking to consolidate and improve its global positioning, and avoid lowering standards as a short-term fix to its economic concerns."

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said the Government was leading the fight against corruption, having hosted the first summit of its kind last May.

She added: "We welcome the news that the UK has again been ranked as one of the ten least corrupt countries in the world... but there is always more we can do, which is why the Government will publish our first Anti-Corruption Strategy in due course, setting out the steps we will take to ensure the UK continues to lead the global fight against corruption."


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