FlyResearch poll: week 17 update
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. In conversation with The Parliamentary Review, managing partner Greg Ward discusses the findings from the seventeenth wave of the Covid-19 tracker survey, published on July 23 and sourced from data collected on July 17, and while much remained unchanged from the previous week’s figures there was a glimmer of improvement in the numbers relating to respondents’ employment status, which could be a first sign of green shoots.
Addressing the panellists’ responses concerning their health and wellbeing first and foremost, Ward explained that there had been no significant deviation from figures recorded over the previous two weeks.
Ward said: “We had hopes to begin seeing improvements in areas such as the percentage of the panel reporting zero health issues, be they physical or emotional. However, we are seeing no real evidence of this yet - either for our panel members or the people they know”.
Shifting focus to the employment-related findings in this week’s poll, Ward was pleased to report that some improvement had been seen, but urged expectations of any further improvement to remain tempered.
“There are real signs of improvement in this area, but I would advise against getting carried away,” Ward said.
“At the height of the pandemic, between weeks six and ten in our Covid-19 tracker survey, we saw 13 per cent of our panel members inform us that they had been furloughed. Since then, the percentage has slowly decreased to stand at ten per cent this week.
“In week 15 of the poll, we saw the rate of people made redundant marginally rise from one to two percent, and that has remained the case through to this week. However, we have also seen those polling in as ‘still employed’ rise from 40 per cent in week 11 to 43 per cent now. We can, therefore, assume that around a quarter of those who were furloughed have now returned to work, with three quarters of those who were furloughed remaining on the scheme.”
Concerning the customary survey question about the emotions experienced by panel members, the emotion “concerned” remains most prominent, although it has subsided from 47 per cent over recent weeks to 45 per cent.
Commenting on the shift, Ward said: “This is not a significant change, but any improvement at all has to be seen as a positive, particularly so this week since we have seen a decline in the number of people polling in as feeling ‘hopeful’, which has dropped to 34 per cent from 37 per cent in the previous week’s figures.”
Elsewhere, the proportion of the panel describing themselves as feeling ‘angry’ remained at 17 per cent, consistent with the previous week’s poll, while 22 per cent informed FlyResearch that they felt ‘pragmatic’, another consistent figure from the previous set of findings.
With the minimal change in emotion and wellbeing compared to the previous poll, there was also little change in the findings from FlyResearch’s one to ten tracker survey detailing how respondents feel that the government has handled the pandemic thus far.
Explaining the latest approval figures, Ward highlighted: “18 per cent of the panel scored the government a top three score of eight to ten, suggesting that they feel they are doing a decent job. 38 per cent of the panel returned a bottom three score to indicate they felt their response was poor, while 44 per cent occupied the middle ground of a four to seven score.
“Looking back to the tenth week of the survey, these scores stood at 18 per cent, 39 per cent and 43 per cent and they worsened after that. There may be signs now that this is reversing again, but there is still much ground to make up to get back to where it was in the earlier weeks of the poll.”
In line with this data, the feedback for FlyResearch’s speed survey yielded minimal changes. In the -100 to +100 survey which summarises whether the panel overall feels that the government is moving too slowly or too quickly in easing lockdown restrictions, the latest score was recorded as +30, down from +31 the previous week.
Among the panel members, 21 per cent said that they felt the government was moving far too quickly in its loosening of the lockdown, while 37 per cent polled in to say that the government was moving just a little too quickly for their liking. 58 per cent of the panel overall, therefore, feel restrictions are being lifted too swiftly in some form.
Elsewhere, 30 per cent of the panel fed back that they thought the government’s pace was adequate, while seven per cent and six per cent believe the government is moving a little too slowly and much too slowly in lifting lockdown respectively.
In this week’s set of unique questions in the poll, FlyResearch reintroduced an issue that it put to the panel previously back in the fifth week survey, asking them about whether they chose to wear face coverings when venturing outdoors.
Analysing the responses, Ward said: “Much has changed over the last 12 weeks including government advice on wearing face coverings, so it comes as no surprise that the data has shifted between week five and now.
“Almost three months ago, a mere 15 per cent of respondents wore some form of face covering when going out, which has now risen to 58 per cent this week. Also this week, 17 per cent of people told us that they wore home-made masks, an increase of 12 per cent on the numbers received in week five.
“35 per cent said in the latest survey that they wear a simple surgical mask when heading out, which has gone up in 12 weeks from seven per cent, and then 36 per cent this week told us they do not wear any sort of covering when heading out, which has fallen significantly from the 72 per cent we recorded in the fifth poll.
“Another change is reflected in the number of people saying that they do not leave their home. From 13 per cent in week five, this figure has now fallen to six per cent, which we can view as a positive sign.”
Of the 36 per cent who reported that they do not wear face coverings outside of the home, Ward added that the latest survey added another question in an effort to understand the motivations behind such a decision.
29 per cent stated their reasoning as being that they feel masks are ineffective, 33 per cent pointed out that at the time the survey was taken scientific advice did not render mask wearing compulsory, and nine per cent felt that mask wearing put their own health at greater risk.
In other responses, seven per cent felt that wearing a mask was a selfish move since supplies of personal protective equipment are needed more on the frontline in health and care services, while six per cent simply answered that they thought a mask looked silly.
The most popular answer for not wearing a face covering came in as “other - please specify”, at 43 per cent.
Addressing this, Ward said: “Looking through the explanations, there do seem to be some common themes. One answer was that when people go out, they are not heading anywhere where face coverings are compulsory. It is easy to understand that if one lives in the countryside, or in a city where they only tend to head outside for walks rather than to shop, then there is little need to wear any sort of mask and understandable that people probably choose not to wear one.
“There was also a large contingent of the 43 per cent who are intending to wear a face mask but were either waiting for the new rules to come in place and/or for a mask to arrive. We also noticed a group of respondents who have breathing difficulties or find a face covering claustrophobic. Others who wear glasses also reported issues of a mask causing their glasses to steam up, impeding their eyesight.”
The only two remaining groups among the 43 per cent consisted of people who were confused about advice relating to face coverings and chose not to wear one for those reasons, while others simply did not want to wear them.
Ward said: “In the case of people being confused over the guidance, this is somewhat understandable as advice does seem to have been badly communicated. It also seems that there is very limited evidence that wearing a mask helps the wearer in any way, but I would stress that it does prevent others catching the virus from the wearer if they happen to have it. It is perfectly possible to have Covid-19 and not be aware of it.
“Of course, some suggested that their reasoning for not wearing a mask was founded on the fact that they social distance and do not go within a couple of metres of anybody else when out and about, and this is also understandable. Social distancing remains important along with good hygiene practices, but masks do help in those situations where close contact for a short period of time is unavoidable.
“Of the few who said they simply did not want to wear a mask, we saw a little shift in another question we asked, in explaining to them that the benefit was mainly for other people as opposed to the wearer and asking whether this would make them more likely to wear a mask. A total of 34 per cent said they were more likely to wear a face covering in light of this information. Hardly anybody said that it made them less likely to wear a mask, but 63 per cent still stood by their view that they did not think a mask really made any difference.”