Welcome to the findings from the very first Covid-19 survey of 2021. We hope that you, and all those of whom you care, had a good festive period. Well as good as it could be under the circumstances. Unfortunately we’re very aware that won’t be true for some of you. For all we extend our very best hopes for a better year to come. Here’s hoping that, by this time next year, these surveys will be a mere memory.

Looking at the results from this week (week 41) we’re very sad to have to convey that a massive 18% of you know somebody who has passed away from the virus. This figure had been stable for many months (at around 12-13%) then crept up slowly. Just two weeks ago it was 16% but now it’s 18%. Be nice to think there was some data rounding in there (to make it not quite as bad as it looks). But there’s obviously good reason to think it could be true. We’re also seeing 35% of you who know somebody who has been tested and 17% who know somebody with a severe form of the illness.

The news on the employment side is a bit more encouraging. Or, at least, things don’t look any worse than the last few months. We have 47% of you still employed - this is actually slightly ahead of the 45% we saw in week one. At the moment we are showing 6% of you furloughed compared to the 7% we had in week one. That said - it’s important to remember that almost all of you responded to the survey BEFORE the latest lockdown was announced and clearly things might start to change.

Of course the lockdown might have been announced after most of you had already done the survey - but it was fairly obvious that something was very likely to happen. So, it’s not surprising that how you are feeling is fairly similar to just before Christmas. That said, the good news is that more of you are feeling hopeful (32% now vs 21% at Christmas). We’d guess that was probably as a result of the promised acceleration of the vaccine roll-out and that it should continue upwards if the Government meet their targets. Of course many of you are “Concerned” - this week it is 56% (the highest of all the emotions in the survey) verses the 58% we had at Christmas; ie unchanged in any significant way. We have seen a small drop in the percentage of you who are “Angry” though. At Christmas this word was chosen by 36% of you - the highest we had seen. This week it has dropped back to 31% - still high but a bit better at least. The same is true of “Desperate”, albeit from a lower base. At Christmas 12% of you felt desperate (the highest we’d ever seen) - now it has dropped back to 9%. The final emotion worth mentioning - not least because we rarely do - is “Lonely”. To be honest this has remained pretty flat. This week it applies to 13% of you - which happens to be identical to week one. It’s worth mentioning, we think, that it’s fortunately quite low given how long this whole thing has been going on already. Hopefully it will stay low even though it looks like we may be in for an extended lock-down. Keep your spirits up - we WILL get though this.

So, how does all of this make you feel about our Government? Well you can probably guess the answer! Two weeks ago we commented that 29% of you scored the Government at the very bottom of our scale (thinking they were a “disaster”). The news today is a slight improvement - well it is if you think 26% thinking they are a disaster is better than 29%? Technically it probably is (even allowing for statistical error) but you’d be very hard pressed to think either was a good number. Just to be fair - we should point out that we do have 14% of you scoring the Government with one of the top three answers (including 2% who scored them as performing “Exceptionally well”) We’d imagine that these are the people who are recognising that this is an incredibly difficult situation for anybody to handle.

Two weeks ago we commented that 65% of you thought the Government was moving too slowly (vs 13% too quickly and 22% “just about right”). If anything the situation might be slightly worse (66%) but that could easily be rounding or statistical “wobble”. Either way the view is clearcut - you wanted the Government to move more quickly. At least they have moved now.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, therefore, that 40% of you thought the whole Country should go into a full lockdown as soon as possible (remember most of you did the survey BEFORE the announcement). A further 20% thought there should be more restrictions in more areas of the Country. Only 19% wanted a reduction in restrictions (9% thought we should remove them all).

We won’t (yet) comment that much on the vaccination question. We’ve added this to the standard set of questions so will track how this changes over time. At the moment just 2% of you have been vaccinated - it’s a start at least.

Finally for this week, we asked (or rather RE asked) our question on how you compared our UK Government to various others around the world - including the three devolved Governments. Internationally the star players remain New Zealand and Australia - the latter have made strong improvements (in your minds at least) since we started. In the latest data we have 89% of you thinking the NZ Government has done a better job than ours (vs 2% a worse one) but it was 87% and 3% last time (week 28) and 84% vs 2% when we first asked in week 7; ie you always thought New Zealand were doing a great job. Australia, however, are now 81% (better) and 3% (worse). In week 28 you scored them at 70% vs 5% and when we first measured them (in week 4) the figures were 51% and 6%. In your minds, therefore, they have improved considerably. For the more technically minded of you we should add that all of these figures exclude those who didn’t have an opinion. The three other well performing Countries are South Korea (71% vs 7%), China (66% vs 14%) and arguably Germany (44% vs 9%). At the other end of the scale it probably won’t surprise anybody that (very firmly) bringing up the rear are the USA - here we found 2% of you who thought they were doing a better job vs 83% who think they are performing worse even than our Government. You don’t rate India (14% vs 58%) or Russia (15% vs 47%) much either. Then we have France (25% better vs 15% worse), Spain (20% vs 22%) and Italy (19% vs 26%) somewhat in the middle.

As for the three devolved Governments - well they seem to be getting worse over time in your eyes. We first asked about them in week 10. At that point 50% of you (who expressed a view) thought the Northern Ireland Government was outperforming Westminster and only 6% thought they were doing a worse job. This week those figures were 31% better and 8% worse. In the intervening periods your views had gradually got worse. There’s a similar position for Scotland - 60% better vs 8% better in week 10, then a gradual worsening so that we have 37% vs 11% this week. Ditto for Wales - 53% vs 9% in week 10 through to 26% vs 17% this week. It’s interesting that it is very consistent (across the three nations and over time).

Anyhow, with that note, that’s it for this week. Thanks for reading and for participating in the surveys. The next one will be in four weeks time. So, look out for invitations on (or about) the 29th of January. Please stay safe in the mean time.

Market Research