FlyResearch poll: week four update
London based online market research agency FlyResearch has been issuing weekly polls to its research panel throughout the coronavirus pandemic to project how the outbreak has been impacting the daily life of UK citizens. In conversation with The Parliamentary Review, managing partner Greg Ward discusses the poll findings for the week commencing April 20 and how a full month in lockdown has had an impact on health and morale.
The first issue that Ward highlighted compared to findings from the previous week [commencing April 13] was what is becoming a very slight erosion in the number of individuals who haven’t suffered any ill-effects during the outbreak to date.
Ward explained: “When we first asked the question four weeks ago [the week commencing March 30], 60 per cent of our respondents said that they had felt no ill-effects at all. This remained true in week two [beginning April 6] but dropped very marginally to 59 per cent in week three. This week, we have seen that same marginal drop again to 58 per cent.
“Normally, we might question if that was a robust set of changes, but it clearly makes sense that our overall health would start to slip.”
Observing the statistics, the value of the decrease in the number of completely healthy individuals appears to have been equally shared between a slight increase in the number of people displaying mild Covid-19 symptoms and an increase in the rate of people who are now struggling emotionally.
Unfortunately, Ward then went on to say that the percentage of people who know somebody to have passed away as a result of the pandemic has seen yet another increase.
“Back in week one, only one per cent of respondents informed us that they knew somebody who had died as a result of the virus. In week two, this increased to four per cent before rising again to six per cent in week three.
“This week’s numbers show that this rate of people has gone up again to eight per cent, which really does hit home the real horrors of the current situation”.
These numbers were slightly offset by the fact that the percentage of respondents who knew somebody suffering with a severe case of Covid-19 has remained steady at seven per cent and has not seen an increase.
Shifting focus toward employment related figures, Ward said that there is a steady but slow worsening of the situation reflected in the figures.
“In week one, 45 per cent of those we asked were still employed. We saw a slight drop to 43 per cent in week two, and then down to 42 per cent in week three. This week, the rate has once again fallen by one per cent [to 41 per cent].
“The rate of those who have been furloughed has gone up to 12 per cent, and hopefully we will see these people returning to work as the crisis begins to ease”.
Despite what appears to be a gradual intensifying of the situation in places, Ward stressed that emotionally, the figures suggest that morale has not cascaded downward.
He pointed out that in the first week of surveys, 30 per cent of respondents said that the Covid-19 crisis was scaring them, with a further 65 per cent reporting themselves as being ‘concerned’ by the situation. At that stage, only 28 per cent described themselves as ‘hopeful’.
Comparing these numbers to the week four statistics, just 21 per cent of those surveyed now describe themselves as being ‘scared’, with 54 per cent ‘concerned’ and 34 per cent now ‘hopeful’.
Ward said: “Emotionally, we have reason to believe we are in a good place. Of course, it would be wonderful if nobody were to be afraid during the crisis, but the trend is moving in the right direction”.
This week’s measurement of approval of the government’s handling of the pandemic is harder to decipher. FlyResearch uses a scale of one to ten to measure these findings, one being negative and ten being positive.
Presenting the results, Ward explained: “Over week three, 40 per cent of those surveyed said that the government was handling the crisis well by scoring them an eight, nine or ten. This was the same that we saw back in week one.
“However, in week four, we are seeing 37 per cent of respondents giving positive feedback on the government’s approach, which is more comparable to the figure of 36 per cent recorded in week two. Yet, all four weeks suggest a strong approval overall”.
Unique to week four’s set of data, however, is that FlyResearch introduced a new question to the panel asking them to compare the UK government’s approach to that of other governments worldwide.
Introducing the new figures, Ward said: “The standout figures from this new set of data showed us that a huge 78 per cent of our panel thought that the German government had done a better job of handling the pandemic than ours, while just two per cent thought that they had done worse.
“In the eyes of our respondents, both the Australian and French governments have, on average, done a better job than ours, marginally so in the case of the latter.”
Comparing the response of the UK government to that of the Chinese state saw the largest division of opinion. 38 per cent suggested that China had done a better job of addressing the pandemic overall, with 35 per cent saying that they felt they’d fared worse.
Meanwhile, a huge 81 per cent of respondents said that the US response was worse than that of the UK government, with a mere three per cent believing that the Trump administration had fared better.
Another new set of data introduced this week mapped the number of respondents that believe the lockdown in the UK should continue, with Ward suggesting that it makes for positive reading for the prime minister and his advisors.
“55 per cent of the panel said that the lockdown should continue for as long as required, with a further 14 per cent feeding back that they would rather the scientific experts make the official call as to when the lockdown should end.
“In stark contrast, just one per cent wanted the lockdown to end now, while only an additional one per cent told us that they thought it was never necessary in the first instance. However, there is something to be said of the fact that 19 per cent would like to see the lockdown end in the next two months.”
The final new set of data that FlyResearch sought from panel members this week concerned contact tracing applications and who would be willing to use them, amid privacy concerns.
The numbers once again make healthy reading for the government, with contact tracing likely to be a key part of its lockdown exit strategy going forward.
Addressing the figures, Ward informed us that 83 per cent of respondents said that they could be persuaded to use a contact tracing app, with 15 per cent saying they would consider using one. Seven per cent indicated that they would need to be forced into using it if they were to download one.
Crunching the numbers, Ward elaborated: “We saw eight per cent of respondents tell us that they don’t own a smartphone and so could not use a contact tracing app even if they wanted to, and then an additional two per cent who would need help setting up the app on their mobile devices if they were to use it.
“Taking that into account, we are left with seven per cent of people who said they would not use a contact tracing app under any circumstances. Interestingly, of the 61 per cent who are happier about the prospect of using it, only around half of them are concerned about their privacy being compromised”.