Press release 30th Jan 2024

Concerns of corruption at all-time high as UK falls to its lowest ever score on global Corruption Perceptions Index

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Rise in concern over political corruption risks, including cronyism, patronage and the diversion of public, funds, sees UK score hit record low.

  • Statement from Transparency International UK for general release (30 January).
  • For more information or interviews contact Jon Narcross, Senior UK Media and Communications Manager (020 3096 7695)  
  • The full global results can be found here: 

The UK has fallen to its lowest ever score in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). 

Results published today show the UK’s score fell again this year to its lowest since the Index underwent a major revamp in 2012. The UK now sits at 20th in the global ranking, a sharp drop from its position just outside the top ten in 2021.

This year’s score of 71 follows increasing concerns about the UK government’s approach to corruption, despite the Prime Minister’s promise of a government of ‘integrity and professionalism’ [1]. The UK is still without an anti-corruption champion 15 months into his premiership [2].

The CPI comes just days before the COVID-19 inquiry begins to look at the pandemic procurement processes that saw multiple scandals over lucrative government contracts to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and the government’s so-called VIP lane [3].

The CPI uses impartial surveys from experts and business leaders to score and rank countries by the perceived level of corruption in their public sectors. The result is presented on a scale of zero (perceived as highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived as very clean).

The UK’s 2023 CPI score represents the most significant drop in Western Europe over the past five years (-9) steeper than Poland (-6) and Austria (-5). This decline since 2018 is similar in size to that in countries like Myanmar (-9), Nicaragua (-8), Liberia (-7), and Turkey (-7). 
UK CPI results since 2012

(out of 100)

(1 is best)


Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive, Transparency International UK said:
“The continued fall in the UK’s score shows a country heading in the wrong direction. It’s clear that business leaders and other experts are more concerned than ever about political corruption and the abuse of public office in the UK.

"These findings should be a wake-up call for government. We need urgent action from ministers - not just words – to restore much-needed confidence in the integrity of political and public life.”

The UK’s latest score is based on data from eight independent sources, including the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Economic Forum. All surveyed experts and business executives for their views on abuses of public office for private gain and bribery in the UK. 

New data for this year’s CPI were collected between January 2022 and October 2023, during which time:

  • both the UK Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion and Independent Advisor on Ministerial Interests resigned – the Anti-Corruption Champion post remains vacant to this day
  • there were a stream of revelations about questionable procurement practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, including news of a criminal investigation by the National Crime Agency into contracts awarded to PPE Medpro
  • court disclosures highlighted that a major political donor to the Conservative Party was a person of importance in an industrial-scale money laundering scheme [4]
  • there were continued concerns about the award of honours and peerages in return for substantial political donations and political loyalty

The data shows that while perceptions of bribery generally are improving, there are growing concerns over cronyism and patronage in politics, and its effect on the management of public funds.

To stop the slide in the UK’s score and regain its place in the CPI’s top 10, Transparency International UK call on the government to:

  1. Raise and enforce standards in government by placing ethics watchdogs and the codes they oversee on a statutory footing, including the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), the Independent Adviser on Minister’ Interests and the House of Lords Appointments Committee (HOLAC).
  2. Put a stop to the corrosive influence of big money in politics by placing £10,000 cap on donations and reducing campaign spending limits and reporting thresholds.
  3. Show leadership and a genuine commitment to transparency and accountability by appointing an influential Anti-Corruption Champion and publishing an ambitious anti-corruption strategy that contends both with international kleptocracy and corruption in British politics.

Corruption around the World

Globally, the CPI average score remains unchanged at 43 for the twelfth year in a row. More than two-thirds of countries are seen to have a serious corruption problem, scoring below 50.  

Denmark (90) tops the index, with South Sudan (13), Syria (13) and Somalia (11), all of which are embroiled in protracted conflict, remaining at the bottom. 

Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive, Transparency International UK said:

“Despite repeated warnings, the UK’s score continues to fall. Britain has slid from just outside the top ten countries to barely clinging onto the top twenty in just two years.

“With the most significant drop in Western Europe we remain an unfortunate outlier, falling behind our peers – a powerful indictment of the recent decline in standards in government that have dominated the headlines in recent years.”


Notes to editors:

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a ‘poll of polls’ that measures how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be.

It is not a measure of actual levels of corruption, corruption in the private sector, or how a country facilitates corruption overseas.

The CPI aggregates up to 13 surveys measuring business executives’ and country experts’ perceptions of public sector corruption into a single country score.

The UK’s 2023 CPI score is based on data from eight sources, seven of which are new for the CPI 2023.. Two of these sources saw a drop in the UK’s score, one increased and the remaining four staying the same.

For each country’s individual score and changes over time, as well as analysis for each region, see the 2023 CPI page.