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 28th wave of the Covid-19 tracker survey with the Leaders Council, published on October 9 and sourced from data collected on October 2.
Beginning his customary analysis of the figures, Ward opted to skip over the usual first two questions about the physical and emotional health of respondents, citing no visible changes from the previous survey’s findings.
Ward commented: “There does not seem to be any visible movement from our previous findings in the physical or emotional health of our panel members nor their associates. The figures have been lingering around the same percentages for a while now, with the odd percentage point movement each week.”
With the furlough scheme set to end in its current form at the end of October, Ward reported that movement could be seen in the feedback regarding employment status.
He said: “The proportion of those furloughed is down to seven per cent having stood at ten per cent before, and the number of those employed has increased two percentage points to 45 per cent. The percentage of people saying they are redundant remains at two per cent for now, yet the threat to the hospitality and entertainment industry is looming and with the latest unfortunate closure of Cineworld cinemas, more people losing their jobs is a sad reality the job market will have to face.
“It might not be easy for some people to find an alternative income. Anecdotally, a friend of mine in the music industry has just completed the government questionnaire to see what other jobs she can take, and the suggestions of ‘astronomer’ or ‘stockbroker’ were not particularly helpful!”
Next on the agenda in Ward’s latest analysis was how the ongoing situation had impacted the specific emotions that respondents were experiencing, and interestingly there was some positive movement to be seen.
Ward elaborated: “There is good news in the responses to the emotions question with the recent peak in the number of ‘concerned’ people dropping from 61 per cent to 57 per cent this week. The prevalence of those feeling ‘angry’ has also subsided slightly from 33 per cent to 31 per cent, supported by a slight uplift in ‘hopefulness’ with 20 per cent now describing themselves as feeling ‘hopeful’, up from 18 per cent.
“Naturally, our feelings are guided to a great extent by what is in the media and what the government tells us. So, I would say that the effects of this are entirely dependent on who everyone believes. The good news is that despite a recent increase in Covid cases in the UK and around the world, 19 per cent of our respondents say that they remain ‘pragmatic’ and are carrying on, very much in the British spirit of things.”
The next data set concerned the panel members’ responses to how well they felt the government was performing in handling the pandemic. There was some marginal movement in the right direction, but the consensus remains that their handling of Covid-19 has been largely disastrous.
On the one to ten scale [one representing ‘disastrous’ and ten signifying ‘effective’], 47 per cent of the panel scored the government’s current handling of the pandemic in the bottom three, measured against 48 per cent who did so in the previous poll. The one per cent carried over to the middle ground, where 40 per cent scored the government’s response between four and seven, compared to 39 per cent last week. 13 per cent, consistent with the previous survey, continued to score the government’s strategy in the top three range of eight to ten.
The panel’s judgement on the speed in which the government is moving to lift lockdown restrictions and address issues as they arise showed no changes from the previous week. Commenting on this, Ward said: “As always, we summarised the panel’s overall view with a speed calculation, with -100 on our scale representing that the government is moving much too slowly and +100 indicating that ministers are moving far too hastily in easing restrictions. For the second consecutive week, we are seeing a score of -9, which means that the balance of opinion is that the government is moving too slowly.”
The latest guest question which concluded the survey saw the return of a query last put to the panel in the 22nd week of the survey, comparing respondents’ views on how the UK was coping in handling the Covid-19 crisis compared to other nations.
As was the case six weeks before, New Zealand remained the top performer, with 84 per cent feeling that they are doing a better job of handling the crisis than the UK government, up from 78 per cent in week 22.
Australia and South Korea were the next best performers according to the panel, with 65 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively, feeling that they were handling Covid-19 more effectively. Once again, these were increased numbers on those seen six weeks previously, when 56 per cent felt Australia’s government was faring better and 51 per cent thought the same of the government in Seoul.
Germany and China continued to fare better than the UK in the panel’s eyes, with 54 per cent favouring the German government’s response over the UK’s and 37 per cent in support of China’s, comparing to 43 per cent and 15 per cent who thought as such the last time this question featured in the poll.
The responses did not make for positive reading for the Trump administration in the US, nor the governments of India and Russia. Albeit the 85 per cent of respondents who believed the US’ response was inferior in its effectiveness to that of Westminster in week 22 has now slightly dropped off to 81 per cent. Meanwhile, 67 per cent now believe the Indian government is faring worse than ministers in the UK [compared to 63 per cent in week 22] and 31 per cent now feel Moscow is not doing as good a job, which is, interestingly, an improvement on the 47 per cent who thought as much previously.