On 19th and 20th May, IAESV together with CURA (the Center for Urban Research on Austerity) ran a survey on attitudes and beliefs around the coronavirus pandemic. A total of 1001 people were surveyed from across the UK on a range of issues including trust, government policy, volunteering, shopping and working in health care. We subsequently ran the survey again on the 27th May with a further 200 people in order to explore the effect of the Dominic Cummings revelations on trust and behaviour. Here we provide a brief snapshot of some key results. More detailed results will be published in due course.
A large proportion of respondents had provided voluntary help to others during the crisis. As the figure below shows a large proportion had volunteered support to friends, family and neighbours. This, though, needs to be put in comparison to ‘normal’ volunteering. As you can see, we observed a large drop in volunteering for charity and community groups compared to that in 2019. This is arguably not a surprise given the lockdown and social distancing rules, but clearly may have an impact in terms of delivering support to vulnerable groups.
We explored trust in people/organisations giving reliable information during the Coronavirus crisis. The figure below details the proportion of respondents who trusted various sources of information. You can see that the NHS and scientific advisors are trusted by over 80% of respondents. By contrast, politicians and the media are trusted by less than half of respondents. This suggests it is vital that information about the crisis is communicated via the NHS and scientific advisors.
We asked respondents about their knowledge of government advice on coronavirus and whether they had behaved consistent with that advice. Around two thirds of respondents were confident they understood the guidance while a third thought it was confusing. The vast majority of respondents say they did follow government guidance on social distancing and ‘Stay at Home’. As you can see in the figure below around 70% of respondents say they followed the guidance at all times. Of those that did not follow the guidance most did not do so in order to help someone.
Positive and negative impact
Respondents were asked which things had the most positive, and negative, psychological impact on them during the crisis. You can see on the figure below that in terms of positive impact there are a wide range of views. A decrease in pollution and traffic was the option chosen most, closely followed by the potential to obtain a vaccine and messages to protect the NHS.
In terms of negative impact we find a clearer set of views. Panic buying in supermarkets was the option chosen most, followed by loss of income and that the virus appears more serious for those with pre-existing conditions. Interestingly, friends or family being infected and school closures come well down the list.
Herd immunity has been a recurring topic during the crisis. We find that 11.5% of respondents said that the idea of herd immunity had a positive psychological impact for them while 37.2% said that it had a negative psychological impact.
When asked about how the crisis had effected various aspects of life we obtain a largely negative picture. As you can see in the figure below around a half of respondents report it negatively effecting mental health, financial security and career and work. Just under a half of respondents do, though, report a positive effect on relationships with loved ones.
The vast majority of respondents (91%) agreed that an increase in government spending was necessary during the crisis. There was also agreement (71%) that the economic cost of restrictions is justified to save lives. We asked respondents to choose two out of four areas to prioritize funding. As you can see in the figure below, the NHS was a clear priority, followed by workers and self-employed who have lost employment. There was less support for small business.
We also asked respondents how the government should manage government finances after the crisis. You can see from the figure below that views are mixed. Around a third suggest a balance of spending cuts and tax increases. There is a slight tendency towards increased taxes rather than reducing spending.
We asked respondents what had the biggest impact on their shopping behaviour. You can see that fear of catching coronavirus was the biggest factor followed by planning in case need to self-isolate and fear there will be no food.
Interestingly, respondents were split on whether it made sense to buy more food when coronavirus came to the UK. A total of 43.5% disagreed that it made sense while 36.7% agreed. Just under 50% said they did buy more food as a result of the pandemic (with only 6% buying less).
Working in health care
We asked respondents to think about a child considering a career in health care. The figure below gives factors that would make people more willing to encourage a child into healthcare. You can see that working for a valued and stable profession comes out top.
The following figure looks at factors which make someone more reluctant to recommend working in healthcare. You can see that exposure to viruses tops the list closely followed by uncertain working hours.