Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updated National Polling Round-Up 08/07/2020

Westco Communications

 

Westco polling round-up

These are challenging times for all of those working in local government. As local authorities move on from their initial response to the crisis, they need to understand the views of local residents and businesses to continue to effectively target resources and plan for recovery. Below you can read our latest article which provides an update on what national polling says about COVID-19. This blog post follows on from our initial blog post, and summarises polling and data from a wide variety of sources. 

We have also recently developed a series of tools which allow public sector and local authority clients to engage and monitor the view of residents and local businesses on the personal and financial impact of COVID-19. These include both quantitative tracking surveys of residents or businesses and online focus groups. Our solutions are:

  • Quick to turnaround to launch and gather results
  • Low cost
  • Highly useful in terms of providing actionable insight to inform both crisis response and recovery
  • Monitor and track trends over time

If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact our Executive Research Director, Caroline Roper, for more information  (caroline@westcocommunications.com).

 

Behaviour

As government guidance continues changing, polling suggests that people are now taking advantage of eases to government restrictions. For example, as of the 16th of June:

 

  • Just over two thirds (69%) of British adults say that they are avoiding public places, compared with 80% on the 14th April.
  • Around a quarter (27%) of Brits are avoiding going to work, compared with 38% on the 14th April.
  • Three out of five (59%) UK adults say they are improving their personal hygiene. This figure was 75% on the 14th April.
  • Just under half (48%) of British adults are refraining from touching objects in public compared with 59% on the 14th April.[1]

 

Savanta’s daily tracker also supports YouGov’s findings. Their tracker shows that the share of residents who have left their home yesterday has risen from 43% on the 14th April to almost two thirds 63% now[2]. Such a growing proportion of people leaving their home might suggest that more and more UK residents are going outside for non-essential tasks[3].

 

A combination of both personal choice and wanting to follow government guidance seem to be driving people’s behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, wearing a face mask is now compulsory in certain situations (i.e., on public transport)[4]. The YouGov COVID-19 behaviour change tracker shows that residents are using face masks more than before, with 27% using face masks in public places compared to only 10% on the 14th of April[5]. Despite the figure now being higher, it is important to note that the usage of face masks has steadily increased over the last months, and that one in five Brits (21%) was already wearing face masks in public before the government announced they would have become compulsory on public transport[6]. This suggests that people might be acting out of concern for catching and/or spreading the Coronavirus – rather than only to comply with the government’s guidelines.

 

Changes in mood

The Coronavirus pandemic seems to have affected the nations moods, with several emotions peaking and plummeting during key stages of lockdown. Over the course of the pandemic peoples emotions changed dramatically but many have now returned to their usual levels, whilst others are have not yet gone back to their pre-pandemic levels.

In their weekly tracker of Britain’s mood and emotions, YouGov found that, in the week lockdown was announced (23rd March), 36% of UK’s adults reported feeling scared – compared to an average of 10% in the months before the pandemic[7]. This figure has been steadily decreasing and it is now almost as low as it was before the pandemic (12%). Similarly, levels of happiness plummeted from an average of 60% before the pandemic to only 25% at the beginning of lockdown. Levels of happiness, however, have not gone back to the pre-pandemic levels – less than half (45%) of UK residents report feeling happy now[8].

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a high proportion of people in the UK now feel bored. Boredom peaked at 40% in April, and around one in three (34%) report being bored now. Levels of boredom before lockdown were much lower, with an average of 20% of British adults feeling bored[9]. Levels of frustration are also higher than usual, with 43% of Brits feeling frustrated now – compared to an average of 35% before lockdown. Rather than peaking at the start of lockdown, frustration seems to have increased slowly but steadily – being at its highest levels in the past few weeks[10].

Overall, despite people feeling less scared and having adapted to what is considered the “new normal”, mental health seems to have declined during lockdown. It is important for local government to take into consideration the effects of such changes in mood across the population, as they might put increased pressure on local health services. Councils can also consider early interventions to target and protect those who are more likely to be severely impacted by the lockdown on an emotional level.

 

Concerns

 

Now less that half of all people in the UK fear catching the virus. Overall, the fear of catching Coronavirus has been steadily decreasing over the past months, with less than half (48%) of UK residents being worried about catching COVID-19 (compared to 60% on the 14th April)[11].

Along with health, the top concern for the public is the economy. YouGov regularly polls British adults on what they think are the top issues facing the country. Despite health remaining the top issue (59% as of the 22nd June), it has decreased significantly since the beginning of lockdown (where it peaked at 75%)[12]. Interestingly, the economy is now almost as important as health, with 58% of UK adults saying that it is an important issue the country is facing[13].

These concerns about the national economy are mirrored in the personal financial situations people face. In a poll by Ipsos MORI, two in five households (41%) reported that the Coronavirus outbreak has had a negative outcome on their income – compared to 14% that reported it having a positive impact and 44% saying that it has had no impact[14].

Businesses continue to be concerned about the financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In a recent YouGov’s poll, British adults were asked whether they expected to spend more or less on retail shopping in the next twelve months after the reopening of non-essential shops. Fewer than half (47%) said they expected to spend the same amount and only 4% expected to pay more. By contrast, 41% of respondents said they expected to spend less on retail shopping than they did before lockdown[15].

It is also worth noting that, according to Savanta’s polls on people’s reasons for leaving their home every day, those who reported visiting a shop that is not a supermarket has not changed significantly since non-essential shops have reopened on the 15th June[16]. This could suggest that people might still be afraid of the virus and that the economy is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels straight away.

These polls demonstrate that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a tangible effect on people’s and businesses’ finances. Increasingly, as lockdown continues, more residents and businesses will apply for government schemes to get economic support. It is important that local government keep in close contact with residents and business to ensure they have all the information on the range of schemes which are available to them.

 

Communications

There have been significant shifts in media consumption and habits from the beginning of the lockdown and residents are still mainly consuming trusted outlets and sources. Overall, people are consuming less media than before and misinformation about COVID-19 is less prevalent.

 

In general, multiple polls have found that people are consuming more news and are consuming it more frequently than before lockdown. An OFCOM survey found that 89% of UK residents accessed the news at least daily. Despite 5% of Brits saying that they get Coronavirus-related news upward of 20 times a day, this figure is down compared to the beginning of lockdown – when a quarter (24%) were seeing COVID-19 news more than 20 times a day[17]. A YouGov poll run in May also identified increases in online news consumption: 48% of British adults said they were consuming more news on the 23rd April compared with 36% on the 12th March. This YouGov poll found that consumption of all forms of media, not just news, had increased, as a result of lockdown. For instance, there has been a 45% increase in the consumption of T.V./movies, 40% increase in the consumption of on demand television and 37% increase in the consumption of content on Facebook[18].

Perhaps linked to an increased consumption of social media during the pandemic, almost one in three people (30%) report having come across false or misleading misinformation about Coronavirus in the past week[19]. The most common myth about COVID-19 is that it was caused by 5G technology. This kind of misinformation was heard in the past week by 22% of respondents – down from 50% in April. However, 5% shared or forwarded content with such information – down only two percentage points compared to April (7%)[20]. A poll by King’s College and Ipsos MORI conducted in May found social media plays a part in spreading misinformation: 60% of those who believe in the 5G conspiracy theory mainly get their information from YouTube, and 56% of those who believe that there is no evidence that COVID-19 exists use Facebook as a key information source. People who do not believe in these myths are much less likely to be using YouTube (14%) or Facebook (20%) as a main source of information[21].

Official sources continue to be the most used and trusted. The BBC, despite a decrease, is still most widely used Coronavirus news source: the vast majority of UK residents use BBC news sources for information about Coronavirus (69%), but this is down from 82% in May. Trust in ‘official’ sources and established media brands continues to be high. For instance, amongst official sources the NHS is most trusted (91%), followed by local health services (87%), official scientists (84%), the WHO (80%) and the Government (68%)[22].

The high levels of trust in official sources could be harnessed by local authorities to promote verified, reliable information about the pandemic, as residents are more likely to take on board council messaging. Particular attention should be paid to false information: local government has the opportunity to play a key role in busting myths and keeping their residents up to date with verified, trustworthy news and information.

 

Author: Sofia Allueva Yuste, Senior Research Executive (Research & Insight) at Westco.

 

 

[1] YouGov, ‘COVID-19 Personal Measures Tracker’, Feb-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/international/articles-reports/2020/03/17/personal-measures-taken-avoid-covid-19).

[2] Savanta, ‘Coronavirus Data Tracker’, Mar-June 2020 (source: https://savanta.com/coronavirus-data-tracker/#concernandimpact)

[3] Savanta, ‘Coronavirus Data Tracker’, Mar-June 2020 (source: https://savanta.com/coronavirus-data-tracker/#concernandimpact)

[4] UK Government, ‘New rules on face coverings’, 12th June 2020 (source:  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-rules-on-face-coverings-coming-in-on-monday-will-help-keep-passengers-safe).

[5] YouGov, ‘COVID-19 Personal Measures Tracker’, Feb-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/international/articles-reports/2020/03/17/personal-measures-taken-avoid-covid-19).

[6] YouGov, ‘COVID-19 Personal Measures Tracker’, Feb-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/international/articles-reports/2020/03/17/personal-measures-taken-avoid-covid-19).

[7] YouGov, ‘Britain’s Mood Measured Weekly’, August 2019-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/science/trackers/britains-mood-measured-weekly)

[8] YouGov, ‘Britain’s Mood Measured Weekly’, August 2019-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/science/trackers/britains-mood-measured-weekly)

[9] YouGov, ‘Britain’s Mood Measured Weekly’, August 2019-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/science/trackers/britains-mood-measured-weekly).

[10] YouGov, ‘Britain’s Mood Measured Weekly’, August 2019-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/science/trackers/britains-mood-measured-weekly).

[11] YouGov, ‘COVID-19 Fear of Virus Tracker’, Feb-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/international/articles-reports/2020/03/17/fear-catching-covid-19).

[12] YouGov, ‘National Issues Tracker’, June 2019-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/trackers/the-most-important-issues-facing-the-country).

[13] YouGov, ‘National Issues Tracker’, June 2019-June 2020 (source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/trackers/the-most-important-issues-facing-the-country).

[14] Ipsos MORI, ‘The Health Foundation COVID-19 Survey, June 2020 (source: https://www.health.org.uk/sites/default/files/upload/publications/2020/Health-Foundation-2020-COVID-19-Polling-Full.pdf).

[15] YouGov, ‘Over the next 12 months, do you expect you will spend more or less on retail shopping than you did before lockdown?’ June 2020 (Source: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/health/survey-results/daily/2020/06/11/9925b/3)

[16] Savanta, ‘Coronavirus Data Tracker’, March-June 2020 (source: https://savanta.com/coronavirus-data-tracker/#concernandimpact)

[17] OFCOM, ‘Covid-19 news and information: consumption and attitudes’, March-June 2020 (source: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/tv-radio-and-on-demand/news-media/coronavirus-news-consumption-attitudes-behaviour/interactive-data)

[18] YouGov, ‘COVID-19 Tracker’, Feb-May 2020, (source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyJDj34PzGw)

[19] OFCOM, ‘Covid-19 news and information: consumption and attitudes’, March-June 2020 (source: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/tv-radio-and-on-demand/news-media/coronavirus-news-consumption-attitudes-behaviour/interactive-data)

[20] OFCOM, ‘Covid-19 news and information: consumption and attitudes’, March-June 2020 (source: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/tv-radio-and-on-demand/news-media/coronavirus-news-consumption-attitudes-behaviour/interactive-data)

[21] Ipsos MORI & King’s College London, ‘Belief among Britons in coronavirus myths’, May 2020 (source: https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/belief-among-britons-coronavirus-myths).

[22] OFCOM, ‘Covid-19 news and information: consumption and attitudes’, March-June 2020 (source: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/tv-radio-and-on-demand/news-media/coronavirus-news-consumption-attitudes-behaviour/interactive-data)

 

 

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