London based online market research agency FlyResearch has been issuing weekly polls to its research panel of over 3000 people throughout the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, in order to project how the outbreak and the implementing of social distancing has been impacting the daily life of UK citizens. This week, managing partner Greg Ward discusses the findings from the nineteenth wave of the Covid-19 tracker survey with the Leaders Council, published on August 5 and sourced from data collected on July 31.
Commencing his analysis of the weekly change in figures with the opening questions concerning the mental health and wellbeing of panel members and their families, Ward highlighted that there was little movement from the previous week’s results.
Ward said: “With regard to the direct effect of Covid-19 on the health of our panel members and their families, we have seen virtually no movement, which is unsurprising since infection rates have reduced over most of the UK.
“To provide some idea of this, eight per cent of the panel reported that they had suffered mild symptoms of the virus, consistent with last week’s figures. Meanwhile, the percentage of those who informed us that their personal emotional wellbeing was suffering as a result of the pandemic has dropped very marginally from 39 per cent last week to 37 per cent now. The percentage of people reporting ‘no symptoms’ has gone up from 52 per cent to 53 per cent.”
The lack of movement remained consistent in the responses to the survey’s customary question about the employment status of participants.
The tracker survey showed that the percentage of panellists who are “still employed” has marginally increased from 42 per cent to 43 per cent, while the number of furloughed has seen a one per cent decrease on the previous survey and is now down to ten per cent.
The percentage of panellists declaring themselves “redundant” remains at two per cent, consistent with the previous four surveys, and the quantity of those “not working” remained level with the previous week at 37 per cent.
Ward commented: “It will be interesting to gauge how far these figures change, if at all, from August onward as more people emerge from furlough. The media has reported that a number of businesses are making cutbacks, so unfortunately, we may find that more people find themselves in a difficult situation in the months to come and the percentage of those made redundant could creep up.”
Proceeding to address the numbers coming from the tracker survey’s question on the specific emotions panel members are experiencing, Ward disappointingly admitted that the outcomes did not appear positive compared to the previous week.
Ward said: “We have seen emotions register a real shift since last week, and not in a positive way. 51 per cent of the panel now describe themselves as ‘concerned’, which has shot up from 45 per cent last week. This is the highest total we have seen for this emotion for 14 weeks.
“Furthermore, there was a jump in the number of respondents reporting that they feel ‘angry’, which has increased to 22 per cent from 16 per cent last week. Meanwhile, the number of those feeling ‘hopeful’ has fallen from 33 per cent to 24 per cent now, the lowest number we have seen throughout the 19 weeks we have been conducting this research.”
Regarding the survey’s regular question mapping the panel’s approval ratings of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the latest figures indicate that Westminster’s actions continue to underwhelm respondents.
The question utilises a one to ten survey - one representing ‘a disaster’ and ten representing a ‘highly effective’ response - to chart the general consensus on Westminster’s handling of the crisis. A minority 16 per cent scored the government a top three score of eight to ten, while 39 per cent handed them a bottom three score.
Analysing those numbers more closely, a staggering 19 per cent scored the government’s response with a bottom score of one, while a mere two per cent recorded a top score of ten. The 45 per cent remaining occupied the middle ground, scoring the government within the four to seven range.
Meanwhile, in the speed survey question mapping the panel’s general feeling on the pace of lockdown restrictions being lifted by the government, there was more marginal change.
This survey uses a -100 to +100 scale to measure the overall feeling of the panel after breaking down their individual responses. -100 would indicate that Westminster is moving far too slowly in easing restrictions, while the +100 side of the scale suggests that the government is moving far too quickly in reopening society.
After having dropped from a score of +30 two weeks ago to +21 in the previous week, the figure has regained positive traction by increasing to +24, suggesting that the panel feels that the government continues to move a little too hastily in its easing of restrictions.
Concluding his weekly analysis by shifting focus to the one-off questions in the latest Covid-19 tracker survey, Ward explained that one of the new questions acted as a continuation to one of those included in the previous week’s survey.
Ward said: “The first of our unique questions in the previous survey was around the intention of our panel members to book an overseas holiday in 2020, and it seemed that many respondents were opposed to the idea. We asked a similar question this week, quizzing participants on whether the sudden re-imposing of quarantine rules on Spain and the possibility of further nations being removed from the quarantine exempt list had put any of them off going abroad.
“43 per cent stated that they had no intention of holidaying abroad even prior to the pandemic. Elsewhere, 29 per cent suggested that they would have travelled abroad in a normal year, but the coronavirus has forced them to wait before making any plans. Six per cent suggested that they were planning a holiday but will no longer go because of the situation, and a further six per cent informed us that they had a holiday booked but are now going to cancel it or have already gone through the cancellation process. Four per cent declared they have a holiday booked but will decide closer to the date whether they travel, while another four per cent say they are planning a holiday but will decide at a later stage on whether to book one."
He added: “Interestingly, one per cent of the panel reported that they were abroad at the time of answering the survey!”
Elsewhere, one in six of those that were still planning an overseas holiday indicated that they will not abide by any quarantine restrictions they are asked to follow. Five per cent of respondents overall stated that they intend to travel abroad but will obey quarantine restrictions upon their return, while one per cent declared that they also intend to travel but will not abide by quarantine restrictions upon returning.
Following on from this question, the survey sought to gauge the panel’s opinion of the reintroduction of certain lockdown measures in parts of northern England.
47 per cent of panellists responded to say they felt the government’s decision to reimpose restrictions was about right, while 43 per cent felt that the measures did not go far enough.
24 per cent of the panel suggested that they would have brought in more restrictions, while 19 per cent felt that the measures that were reintroduced did not go anywhere near far enough.
Ten per cent suggested that the government had gone a little too far in its reaction, while four per cent called the re-imposing of certain measures a ‘substantial overreaction’.
Elaborating on these figures, Ward said: “As can be expected, people living in affected regions reacted differently to residents elsewhere in the UK. Less than 37 per cent of those living in the north west, equating to around 47 per cent nationally, thought the government got things right, but 49 per cent [43 per cent nationally] felt the measures did not go far enough.
“On the other hand, 14 per cent of inhabitants in the north west, which nationally equals around ten per cent, felt that the government overreacted by bringing back certain restrictions.”