Economics: Vaccine rollout gives citizens hope

Date : 22 January 2021

New ONS data shows that UK citizens remain highly-engaged with government measures to help contain Coronavirus:

  • 86% support/strongly support lockdown measures in their area
  • 70% find it easy/very easy to understand lockdown measures
  • 75% find it easy/very easy to follow lockdown measures

Claimed compliance with measures such as wearing face-coverings and handwashing is still high, but it is clear that Coronavirus is exacting a high mental toll on citizens.

Life satisfaction

Source: ONS, January 2021

Reported levels of stress are high and scores for “life-satisfaction” have trended steadily downwards since the Coronavirus crisis began.

More positively, the data also shows that rollout of vaccines has given citizens hope of a fairly quick return to “normal”.

Life returning to normal

Source: ONS, January 2021

As shown in the chart, in the Autumn the majority of survey respondents that expressed a view felt that it would be at least a year before “normality” would be restored.

With delivery of the first vaccines in December, the situation changed. Now a small majority of those with a view believe that it will be less than six months.

This, however, raises the issue of what “normal” might look like – in particular, will workers go “back to the office”, or continue to work from home?

The ONS data has been consistent on this issue. Although many workers are currently “working from home”, at least some of the time, this is seen as an extraordinary behaviour, the result of Coronavirus – only a minority work from home as regular practice. Key reasons for working from home include:

  • Instructions from employer 59%
  • Government advice 51%
  • Workplace closed 25%
  • Normally work from home 25%
  • Prefer to work from home 9%

Of home workers, very few (9%) say that it is their preference. This gives good reason to believe that workers will go back to their usual places of business, as soon as government advice and employer policy changes.

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