Yonder COVID-19 tracker, January 2021

Owen Thomas - Director

New Yonder polling conducted among 4,174 UK adults between 11-14 January 2021 has found that:

  • Since December, there has been a large increase in the UK population’s willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Some groups – including some ethnic minority groups and younger age groups – do, however, appear less willing than others.
  • There is widespread pessimism about the country’s economy, but that is not matched by people’s perceptions of their personal situation. Indeed, the public is slightly more likely to believe the economy will fare well for them than to say it will fare badly. We could be seeing signs that the country is underestimating how serious the economic fall-out of the pandemic might be for them.
  • Approval in the UK Government’s handling of COVID-19 remains very low and in NET negative territory (many more people think it is handling COVID-19 poorly than say it is doing well), despite many saying the vaccination programme is going well. Views of the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic are markedly more positive, and views are also slightly more positive in Wales. The NHS continues to be seen to be handling the pandemic well.

Large increase in willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine

  • There has been a significant increase in the proportion of UK adults that want to get a vaccine as soon as they are offered it. 68% of UK adults say they want to get a vaccine as soon as they are offered it (or that they have already received one), and this has increased by 11 percentage points since December (57%). 
  • 18% say they don’t particularly want to get a vaccine but will do so if asked to by the NHS, and one-in-ten (10%) say they don’t want to get a vaccine and will do their best to avoid it, even if asked by the NHS.
Figure 1: will you get a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Concerns that “fake news is likely to be causing some people from the UK’s South Asian communities to reject the Covid vaccine” (as reported by BBC News) appears to be reflected in the data. Compared with the rest of the population, respondents from ethnic minority groups are much less likely to be willing to get a vaccine as soon as they are offered it (50% compared with 68% across the UK). Ethnic minority respondents are more likely than the rest of the population to say they will do their best to avoid getting a COVID-19 vaccine (17%, compared with 10% across the UK) but other groups are also less willing – including those aged between 25-34 or between 35-44 (15% and 16% respectively).

Widespread pessimism about the country’s economy not matched by views of personal situations

  • There is a large disparity between the UK public’s views of how the economy will fare for the country as a whole and how the economy will fare for them over the next year. 70% of the UK public think the economy will fare badly for the country as a whole and 58% say the same about their local area, but just 39% think the economy will fare badly for them and their family.  
  • Overall, the public is slightly more likely to believe the economy will fare well for them than to say it will fare badly. Those with relatively high household incomes are particularly likely to think things will go well for them. But, with widespread pessimism about the country’s economy, we could be seeing signs that the country is underestimating how serious the economic fall-out of the pandemic might be. If so, that potential misunderstanding could become a significant factor influencing the political mood of the country.
Figure 2: economic optimism

Low approval of UK Government’s handling of COVID-19

  • Despite the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, approval of the UK Government’s response to COVID-19 remains as low as December 2020. 29% say it is performing well in response to COVID-19, and 50% say it is performing poorly – perhaps linked to the fact that 64% agree “the Government’s advice and instructions about the Covid-19 virus have been inconsistent, unclear and sometimes hard to understand”.
Figure 3: NET approval ratings
  • Approval of the NHS’s handling has been high since the start of the pandemic, and – although there appears to be a slight downward trend – its current pressures do not yet appear to have had a significant impact on public perceptions of the NHS’s handling.
  • In Scotland, approval the Scottish Government’s handling of COVID-19 remains high. In Wales, approval of the Welsh Government’s handling has improved slightly since December – from NET negative to NET positive territory (meaning more people think it is handling things well than poorly).
  • There is, however, considerable positivity across the UK regarding the vaccination programme. 50% of UK adults agree that “the COVID-19 vaccination process is going well” and 56% agree “it should be a source of national pride that the UK was the first country in the world to clinically approve a COVID-19 vaccine”. Furthermore, 51% agree that “the UK Government’s vaccination programme seems to be more successful than those in other countries” compared with just 17% that agree “the UK Government’s vaccination programme seems to be less successful than those in other countries”. We will need to wait to see whether that positivity eventually feeds into broader perceptions of the UK Government or whether credit will be given to the NHS rather than the Government.

Yonder interviewed 4,174 UK adults (aged 18+) online between 11 and 14 January 2021. Quotas and weights were employed to ensure the sample was demographically representative of the UK adult population.

Yonder is a business consultancy that blends insight, strategy and imagination to help clients unlock opportunity and deliver business impact. Launched in October 2020, Yonder brings together the expertise of four specialist businesses; the award-winning research and consultancy of Populus, the state-of-the-art data capture of Populus Data Solutions, the brand and business strategy of BrandCap, and the insight-led innovation of Decidedly.

For more information, please contact hello@yonderconsulting.com

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