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 24th wave of the Covid-19 tracker survey with the Leaders Council, published on September 10 and sourced from data collected on September 4.
As has been typical of the tracker survey in recent weeks, there was very little movement to report in the opening question relating to the health and wellbeing of respondents, as Ward highlighted when beginning his customary weekly analysis of the figures.
Ward said: “When we very first asked this question back in March, 60 per cent of the panel were able to say that the virus had not had an impact on either their physical or emotional health. That steadily fell away until week seven when it had dropped to 54 per cent. It had dropped an extra percentage point by week nine, and since then it has been largely the same, this week it stands at 53 per cent.”
Analysing the movement in numbers, Ward added: “The main increase was down to the emotional health of individuals, with 31 per cent saying that their emotional wellbeing had taken a hit at the start, which rose to 40 per cent in week 11. Since then, it has fallen back slightly and remains fairly stable at 37 per cent. Perhaps, surprisingly, given the increase in the number of tests being conducted across the country and the increase in testing capacity, the percentage of respondents who have been tested remains stable at a meagre eight per cent.”
However, the same did not prove to be true in the case of the second poll question, which related to the health and wellbeing of the friends and family of respondents.
Ward explained: “This week, we have a recent low of 38 per cent who report that people they know are not suffering any health issues, against a recent high of 31 per cent for those who know people who are struggling emotionally. Unfortunately, the recent increase in the number of cases per day across the UK is unlikely to ease the situation.
“The numbers suggest that we should prepare ourselves for that figure to get worse over the next few weeks, with new restrictions poised to come into force.”
On a positive note, the figures relating to the employment status of respondents has remained largely the same and not taken a negative turn. The percentage of people reporting themselves to be “still employed” rose by two percentage points on last week [to 44 per cent], in correlation with a one per cent drop [to nine per cent] in the quantity of people furloughed. The number of people saying they are redundant has also dropped from three to two per cent from last week, and 38 per cent continue to declare themselves as “not working”, consistent with the previous week.
Ward pointed out that similar trends could also be seen in the following question about the specific emotions that members of the panel were experiencing.
He said: “The most prominent emotion this week continues to be ‘concerned’, with 43 per cent of people feeling this way. ‘Hopeful’ is a distant second at 29 per cent.
“We have also seen the emotions ‘indifferent’ and ‘pragmatic’ grow this week, by 17 per cent and 25 per cent respectively, while ‘angry’ is also on the rise. Back in week one 11 per cent informed us that they were feeling angry, and as of this week that stands at 20 per cent. However, it is still lower than the ‘angry’ high of 26 per cent seen in week 11, when we collected data on June 5.”
Ward then moved on to address how the small movement in people’s emotions measured up against their opinions of the government, and once more, the figures painted a similar picture to what was seen in the previous week.
Ward said: “On our one to ten approval scale of the government’s response to the pandemic, an additional one per cent of people scored the government in the bottom three range, with 44 per cent indicating that their response has been a disaster or thereabouts. Likewise, the percentage of panellists scoring the government in the top three range of eight to ten has decreased by one percentage point to 15 per cent.
“It is too early to say whether we are seeing a deterioration in people’s approval, it is so close it could still reverse in the next survey.”
Ward also indicated that similar could be said of the panel’s responses to the speed survey, which calculates the overall view of the panel on how quickly the government is moving in lifting lockdown restrictions.
He said: “Last week, we commented that the score, measured on a -100 to +100 scale, had been trending toward a perfect score of zero, which would suggest on average that the panel feels the government is moving at the right speed. Last week, we saw a score of +16, down from the high of +33 in week 15, but this week we have seen a marginal increase of +18, suggesting that more people are starting to think restrictions are being lifted too rapidly. However, with the new restrictions coming in, this is subject to possible change.”
The guest question to feature in the latest edition of the Covid-19 tracker survey asked panel members about the things which were continuing to concern them through the pandemic, asking them to rate different issues on a zero to ten scale, with zero signalling issues of minimal concern and ten suggesting that the issue was of major concern.
Presenting the new insights, Ward said: “The single biggest concern for the panel was these so-called ‘Covidiots’, a term for people who are simply ignoring the advice on social distancing and mask-wearing. They managed a hefty score on average of 8.0 out of ten, with almost three quarters of the panel scoring them in the top three range.
“Next came concerns about what impact the crisis was having on the economy. That scored 7.7 out of ten on average, with 62 per cent of respondents scoring it in the top three of the scale. Three more issues also registered average scores over seven, with loss of jobs and income coming in at 7.3, the rise in taxes that are likely to come registering at 7.2, and people not wearing masks coming in at 7.0.
“Elsewhere, respondents had fairly major concerns about people socialising in pubs, which scored 6.8 out of ten on average, while the impact the whole pandemic was having on people’s mental health polled in at 6.7, which particularly worried just under half of the respondents overall.”
Comparatively, the panel was less concerned about socialising going on in people’s own homes [6.1/10], or about the possibility of a local lockdown [5.3/10]. The factor of least concern was children returning to school, which returned an average score of 5.1 out of ten with just 28 per cent of respondents scoring in the eight to ten range, and almost as many [27 per cent] scoring it in the bottom three for concern.