The UK is less corrupt than it was last year, and only seven countries in the world are less corrupt, finds the latest report from Transparency International.

It was not much of an improvement, the overall score given to the UK by Transparency International rose by one point, from 81 to 82. But that was enough to see it jump up the ranking, leaping to joint eighth, with the same score as four other countries.

As recently as 2012, the UK was scoring 74, so it has been quite the improvement.

The world’s least corrupt country in 2017 was New Zealand, followed by Denmark, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Singapore and then Sweden – which rather suggests that, with the exception of Singapore, there is a strong correlation with mountains, and snow – although that may be a coincidence.

For the eighth spot, the UK tied with Canada, Luxembourg, and Holland.

Germany was one place behind the UK, the US was in 19th spot, France 23rd, China 77th and Russia 135th. Italy was in 54th spot.

Interestingly, although the UK was in joint eighth spot worldwide, within western Europe it was joint sixth. That may seem like an obvious point, but it is worth bearing in mind – western Europe is the least corrupt region on earth.

Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International, said: “Smear campaigns, harassment, lawsuits and bureaucratic red tape are all tools used by certain governments in an effort to quiet those who drive anti-corruption efforts. We’re calling on those governments that hide behind restrictive laws to roll them back immediately and allow for greater civic participation.”

Looking at the UK, Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said: “It’s encouraging to see perceptions of corruption in the UK’s public sector falling, but in other sectors more work needs to be done to prevent money laundering and stop professionals here enabling corruption from around the world. The UK Government has talked about leading the global fightback against corruption. This requires sustained and long-term commitment.

“The Government has conceded it will not meet its promise to introduce legislation by this April to bring about transparency over the real owners of overseas companies owning UK property. Stalled progress such as this must not continue to be the consequence of the Government’s preoccupation with Brexit. Instead, a leader in the fight against corruption would use Britain’s emerging independence in world trade to ensure strong anti-corruption standards in trade deals made with those countries performing less well in this Corruption Perceptions Index.”