People living in the UK want a more caring and compassionate society, with greater accountability and honesty and more effective governance, a major new report reveals.

The ground breaking study has been compiled by Barrett Values Centre (BVC) in consultation with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and charity Action for Happiness.

BVC questioned 4000 people living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It has identified the personal values of people living in the UK, as well as the values they currently experience in their local communities and in the nation as a whole, along with the values they most want to see reflected in their communities and the nation.

The study also measured the level of dysfunction people feel exists in the UK – coined in the report as ‘cultural entropy’. The results show a 59% level of cultural entropy at the national level. With an overall national entropy result of 59%, the UK has one of the highest levels of cultural dysfunction recorded in nine European countries studied by BVC to date. France, Latvia, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark have all recorded lower scores than the UK.

The report has revealed that people living in the UK value meaningful, close relationships and operate with a strong sense of integrity. The top personal values selected include caring, family, honesty, humour and fun, friendship, fairness and compassion, as well as independence, respect and trust.

In contrast, when asked about the values they see operating in their nation as a whole, the picture is very different. The top values people see in the UK are bureaucracy, crime and violence, uncertainty about the future, corruption, blame, wasted resources, media influence, conflict/aggression, drugs/alcohol abuse and apathy.

Richard Barrett, founder and chairman of the Barrett Values Centre and author of Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations: The Impact of the Evolution of Consciousness on World Affairs (2011), said: “After freedom and equality, accountability is the next most important value to put in place in order to build a well-functioning democracy. This study clearly shows that the people of the UK believe this value, along with the value of honesty, is lacking among our decision-makers.

“What this study highlights is a strong perception among the general public of bureaucracy, corruption, blame and wasted resources. We will only correct this situation if the leaders of our nation take up the challenge of building a values-driven society and creating a more effective civil service.

“Our leaders need to show us the way. They need to become role models of values-driven leadership and they need to show us that they exercise care and compassion for the needs of the elderly and disadvantaged.”

Phil Clothier, CEO of Barrett Values Centre, said: “We hope the results of the study will get people thinking and talking about the values and behaviours that are important to them. The results of this study send a clear message to our leaders that business as usual can no longer be tolerated.”

Dr Mark Williamson, director of Action for Happiness, said: “Our values have a huge impact on the society we live in, so this first national assessment of UK values is very welcome. At a time when many people fear we are losing our moral foundations, this research shows that what people in the UK actually value most of all is caring for others. This is reflected both in their personal values and also the values they would most like to see at the national level.

“I find it very encouraging that, on the whole, we Brits have a deep concern for our fellow citizens and want to live in a society which is compassionate and fair. However, the research suggests that we need political leadership which better reflects the values of the UK people”.