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 21st wave of the Covid-19 tracker survey with the Leaders Council, published on August 19 and sourced from data collected on August 14.
While the reading in the latest survey’s figures may not bode well for prime minister Boris Johnson and the government, there has been some positive shift in the emotions that respondents to the poll have been experiencing, as well as in employment status.
Beginning his analysis by exploring the opening questions on the personal wellbeing of panellists and the health status of their associates, Ward said: “Once more in the opening question we are seeing consistency, with no changes to report on how, personally, our panel members are feeling, compared to the previous survey.
“52 per cent continue to inform us that they are suffering no Covid-19 symptoms, 39 per cent say that their emotional health has been affected, while eight per cent informed us that they are suffering from mild symptoms of the virus. A mere one per cent say that they have suffered from more severe symptoms, and while that figure remains subdued, we can be positive.”
Elsewhere, there was some movement in the figures relating to the health of the friends and family of those completing the survey.
Ward explained: “In the previous survey, we saw the number of those reporting their friends and family to be displaying no physical or emotional symptoms drop to 38 per cent from the 40 per cent recorded in our nineteenth poll. We have seen this movement before, but not since way back in week 12.
“This week, that figure has remained at 38 per cent. We have also seen the percentage of respondents who say the know somebody experiencing mild symptoms go up to 19 per cent, from 17 per cent last week. We last saw movement like this in week seven of the poll back in May, and then it increased to 20 per cent in the eighth survey.
“Strangely, however, the number of panellists who claim to know somebody who has been tested for the virus has dropped to 12 per cent from 14 per cent last week. We can, therefore, surmise that there are more people this week displaying symptoms of what might be coronavirus.”
Shifting focus to the employment question in the survey, Ward believed that there was some tempered optimism to take away from this week’s movement in the figures.
“It seems this week that we may be seeing some change in the right direction. It is only a slight change, so could be reversed next week, but we can be cautiously optimistic with the news that the number of furloughed respondents had fallen from 11 per cent to nine per cent in last week’s survey, and the numbers have remained the same.
“That difference appears to have been added onto the ‘still employed’ answer, and the percentage answering that they are ‘redundant’ has remained locked at two per cent for seven consecutive weeks, so there is some good news for the country to take as a whole, although our thoughts are firmly with any who have been made redundant as a result of the pandemic.”
Addressing the question about the specific emotions that respondents to the survey had been experiencing, Ward was pleased to highlight that there was also some positivity to take from responses.
He said: “Three weeks ago, the number of panellists telling us that they felt ‘concerned’ about the future stood at 51 per cent, the highest it had been since the fifth week of the survey. Last week it fell to 49 per cent and now it has fallen by a further two percentage points to stand at 47 per cent.
“The percentages of those informing us that they feel ‘hopeful’ and ‘stoic’ have gone up one per cent each to 28 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, and the ‘indifferent’ emotion has also seen a rise and is up to 15 per cent.”
Yet, despite the reasoning for encouragement, the questions around the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic remain largely uncomplimentary.
In FlyResearch’s one to ten survey, one representing the view that the government’s response is tantamount to a ‘disaster’ and ten suggesting that their response has been very positive and effective, a sizeable 40 per cent of the panel scored the government between one and three, with just 16 per cent in comparison awarding them a top three score between eight and ten. This compared to 41 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, from the previous week’s survey, meaning views largely remain unchanged. The remaining 44 per cent scored the government’s response within the middle ground of the four to seven range.
Similarly, there was also little change in the panel’s overall view of how quickly the government is moving in lifting lockdown restrictions, measured by a -100 to +100 speed survey with the negative extreme suggesting that restrictions are being lifted far too slowly, and the positive extreme indicating that the lockdown is being lifted at far too quick a pace.
Ward commented: “Five weeks ago, the calculated speed was in the +30s and for the last month it has been in the low +20s at least, suggesting that the government is moving a little too quickly in easing lockdown. Specifically, the numbers have gone from +21, to +24 and then to +20 last week, and this week it is back up to +23.
“In fairness to Boris Johnson and his ministerial colleagues, this is an exceedingly difficult balance to manage. Clearly there are the health aspects to consider, but we cannot ignore the economic aspects either. In order to better understand how the panel feels the country is coming along, we will bring back a previously featured question in the next survey to once more compare the UK’s response to the pandemic with that of other countries, and we will ask for specific opinions on actual individuals within the government.”
Ward concluded his coverage of the latest figures with the ‘guest question’ of the latest poll, which explored respondents’ opinions on social distancing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it emerged that a vast majority of the panel were in favour of it, while a tenth of respondents felt it was time for a complete return to normality.
Presenting the feedback, Ward said: “A huge 70 per cent of people polled said that they thought everyone should keep a two-metre distance as much as possible. 12 per cent were honest enough to say that they did not know what was best.
“Meanwhile, eight per cent of the panel thought that a new national lockdown was necessary and ten per cent felt it was time to do away with social distancing and all other restrictions and go entirely back to ‘normal’.”