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 23rd wave of the Covid-19 tracker survey with the Leaders Council, published on September 3 and sourced from data collected on August 28.
While the wellbeing of the survey’s respondents and the health of their associates remained largely unchanged once again this week, there was a backward step concerning the employment status of the panel members. Interestingly, this was offset by a step in the right direction from the government’s point of view since the panel’s opinion on the pace of lockdown restrictions being lifted continued to look more favourable.
Commencing his summary of the figures on the opening questions, Ward said: “Once more, we have not seen a great deal of change in the wellbeing of our panel members and their associates. In relation to their personal health, eight per cent are still reporting that they are experiencing mild symptoms, while the quantity of those not suffering any physical or emotional symptoms has increased one percentage point to 53 per cent from last week.
“Meanwhile, the percentage have people reporting that their emotional health is suffering has fallen by one per cent, to 37 per cent this week.”
Marginal movement in a positive direction was also seen in the data concerning the friends and family of respondents. Those who polled in to say their associates were suffering from ‘no symptoms’ increased from 39 per cent to 40 per cent, while those reporting that their loved ones were suffering emotionally also fell, going from 30 per cent to 28 per cent.
The percentage of panellists whose associates were experiencing mild symptoms decreased from 17 per cent to 16 per cent, while the number of people who had friends or family members who had taken a Covid-19 test increased for a second week, going from 14 per cent to 15 per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of people informing FlyResearch that somebody they know was suffering from severe symptoms of Covid-19 is in decline, going from ten per cent in the previous poll to nine per cent this week.
Unfortunately, as Ward pointed out, the same positive trajectory was not to be found in the data on the employment status of tracker survey respondents.
He said: “Unfortunately, we have seen a slight worsening on the employment question in the trend that we spotted last week and the week before. The number of people still employed has dropped to 42 per cent, having been 44 per cent last week and 43 per cent in week 21.
“While the quantity of people furloughed remains at ten per cent like last week, the percentage of people made redundant has edged from two per cent last week to three per cent now. The number of people describing themselves as ‘not working’, has risen from 37 per cent to 38 per cent.”
Although movement was seen in the employment status question, it did not seem to have any negative effect on the emotions that the panel were collectively experiencing, which largely remained on the same trajectory as the previous poll.
Ward highlighted: “Like last week, we have seen the number of people reporting themselves as feeling ‘concerned’ drop, this time by two percentage points to 44 per cent, marking four consecutive weeks of decline. While the prevalence of the emotion ‘hopeful’ has not grown this week, remaining at 30 per cent, we are seeing increases in the numbers of respondents saying that they feel ‘indifferent’ and ‘pragmatic’ with the numbers going from 15 per cent to 16 per cent and 22 per cent to 23 per cent, respectively.
“Fortunately, the emotion ‘angry’ remains in decline, having fallen more steeply from 21 per cent to 17 per cent. Elsewhere, only five per cent of the panel described themselves as ‘desperate’ in this latest poll, which is no different than last time out.”
Consistency remained the case in the following question in the latest tracker survey, which maps the panellists’ views on how well they feel the government has responded to the pandemic. The question uses a one to ten scale to track the responses, asking panel members to rate the government’s performance between one and ten, with one suggesting their pandemic response has been tantamount to a disaster, and ten indicating that their response has been very effective.
Presenting the latest numbers, Ward said: “The question on how well our panel feels the government is handling things is showing no real change. In fact, bar a few rounding differences, it has remained almost the same for the last five weeks. Going back even further, it has been around ten weeks since we saw it levelling off toward what it is now.
“The consensus as the very start of the survey back in late March, just after the lockdown was called, was that the government was doing a decent job in handling the pandemic. That then changed very rapidly up to week 11 or so. At that stage, 40 per cent of the panel scored the government’s Covid-19 response in the bottom three of our ten-point scale, and only 15 per cent in the top three. In week one, the figures had been 40 per cent in the top three and just 12 per cent in the bottom three. Since week 11, not much has changed in this. In our latest survey, we have 40 per cent continuing to score the government in the bottom three, 16 per cent in the top three, and 44 per cent occupying the middle ground range of a four to seven score.”
Despite the consistency in negative opinion around the government’s pandemic response, the following question, FlyResearch’s calculation of the panel’s overall view on the pace of lockdown restrictions being lifted, continued to move in the right direction.
Ward explained: “As always, we converted the panel’s answers to this question into a score between -100 and +100, where the negative extreme would mean that the respondents feel the government is moving ‘much too slowly’ in lifting lockdown, and the positive extreme would indicate that the overall opinion was the government was moving ‘much too quickly’ in doing so. The perfect score here would be zero, and there is a steady trend toward that number beginning to emerge, since we have an all-time low score of +16 this week.
“This week’s score compares to +19 last week, +23 two weeks ago, and a high of +33 back in week 15. Therefore, at least on this important metric, it would appear that the panel collectively feels the government is close to getting it about right. Of course, some still think they are proceeding too quickly, and others think progress is too slow, but the overall balance is moving in the right direction.”
Since the latest poll saw data collected within August 2020 for the last time, it seemed fitting that the guest question in the latest tracker survey concerned the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, which has helped stir up activity in the stricken hospitality sector and lapsed after August 31.
Presenting the responses to the guest question, Ward said: “We kept the question itself simple and merely asked the panel whether or not they had used the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme while it was active. Just under half of our respondents - 46 per cent of the panel overall - used the scheme, with 18 per cent doing so just the once and 24 per cent reporting that they had taken advantage of it between two and five times.
“We did not find many who answered that they had used the scheme a lot, but we did find a handful with four per cent saying that they had used the scheme between six and ten times and one per cent informing us that they had ventured out to enjoy the discounts on 11 or more occasions.”