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 29th wave of the Covid-19 tracker survey with the Leaders Council, published on October 16 and sourced from data collected on October 9, which was retrieved as respondents were met with the news of the new three-tier system of restrictions in order to curb the spread of the virus and attempt to alleviate the pressure on the NHS ahead of the winter.
Ward’s weekly analysis of the figures began with a quick examination of the figures concerning the physical and emotional health of the respondents and their friends and family, data which has remained stagnant for much of the last month.
Ward said: “We do seem to have been stuck in the same place for the last month. Yes, numbers do go up and down a tiny bit, but one or two percentage points here and there are not significant enough to indicate any change. There is no clear upward or downward trend here.”
Looking at the statistics concerning the health and wellbeing of the respondents to illustrate Ward’s summary, a mere one per cent of panel members reported that they had been tested, with just one per cent also declaring that they had been experiencing severe symptoms of the virus, consistent with the previous two weeks.
39 per cent of respondents now say that their emotional health is suffering as a result of the pandemic, which is the same as two weeks previously but one per cent higher then last week’s survey. Meanwhile, 51 per cent per cent say that they are experiencing no symptoms, down two per cent from the previous week and down one per cent on a fortnight ago, while eight per cent reported mild symptoms for a third consecutive week.
The figures concerning the employment status of the respondents has also seen a similar pattern of minimal movement in recent weeks. The number of people furloughed has increased to nine per cent from the seven per cent registered in the previous poll, while the number of people made redundant has moved for the first time in six weeks, increasing from two per cent to three per cent. The number of people ‘not working’ has dropped by one percentage point to 37 per cent, and the number of people still employed has fallen from 45 per cent to 43 per cent.
The lack of movement in people’s wellbeing has also carried over to the statistics for the specific emotions respondents to the survey had been experiencing, with Ward pointing out that again there was no major change compared to the previous poll.
He said: “The main emotions in this poll and the previous one have been ‘concerned’ and ‘angry’, with 57 per cent and 31 per cent of the panel, respectively, telling us that they feel as such. Elsewhere, the prevalence of ‘hopefulness’ has dropped from 20 per cent to 17 per cent and eight per cent of our panel members say they are feeling ‘desperate’, so in the next survey we will look to launch an investigation into the reasoning behind this.”
The panel’s opinions on the government’s handling of the pandemic also remained largely unchanged, with respondents scoring Westminster’s handling of Covid-19 on a one to ten scale: one representing a ‘disaster’ and ten suggesting an ‘effective’ response.
47 per cent of the panel scored the government in the bottom three, consistent with last week, while 40 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively, once again scored the government in the 4-7 and top three range.
Ward commented: “What these figures show is that the government is that public sentiment toward the government’s handling of the pandemic remains largely hostile, and once again we are seeing this reflected in the following question which asks how our panel feels the government is moving to ease lockdown restrictions and address issues as they arise.”
Tallying up the individual respondents’ answers, the “speed survey” ranks the panel’s overall view on how quickly the government is moving to ease lockdown and address key issues on a -100 to +100 scale. The negative extreme suggests the government is moving far too slowly in its decision-making, while +100 suggests that restrictions are being lifted or reapplied too hastily.
Ward added: “For the third week running we are in negative territory, this time -20. In percentage terms, it means that over half of the panel, 52 per cent precisely, think that the government is moving a bit too slowly. This figure has gone up in the last month from 37 per cent, so this is a significant change and probably representative of people’s opinions that we seem to be going backwards toward a full lockdown rather than moving toward a return to some form of normality.”
The latest guest question to conclude this week’s findings focused on the Christmas period, amid speculation that family gatherings over the festive season could be banned to help curb the spread of the virus.
The question asked the panel members what they felt the government should do to limit the spread of the virus, and the responses suggested that most favoured celebrating Christmas with immediate family members, but not by much.
Ward explained: “A meagre six per cent went to the extreme of saying we should cancel Christmas celebrations altogether, while a majority of 39 per cent think we should only gather with our immediate family members. 38 per cent, interestingly, do favour getting together with extended family despite everything that is going on and just four per cent would like larger family gatherings to be permitted. Largely, we can say that most of the panel have taken a sensible and pragmatic approach with this. 13 per cent otherwise did not really know what course of action to take.”