Across Great Britain, 80% of adults were worried about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their life; this varied from 76% in the East Midlands and in Scotland, to 87% in the North East. We found those aged 16 to 34 years in the North East were particularly worried.
In London, three out of every five workers said that they worked from home in April 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic; this was higher than the other countries and regions, with workers in the East of England and East Midlands being least likely to work from home.
People in Wales were most likely to have access to a private garden, while people in London had least access, but Londoners compensated by being the most likely to visit a park or public green space, with people in Wales being least likely.
People in London had the lowest awareness of the government's Stay at home guidelines in April; awareness was highest in the West Midlands.
The most neighbourly area was the South West, where 64% of people checked on their neighbours at least once in April, compared with London where 48% had checked at least once.
In Scotland and the North East, around half of people thought their household finances would remain the same in the coming 12 months, whereas people in London and the South East were more pessimistic, with almost half (48%) saying they expect their household finances to worsen.
"This is the first time we have analysed the country and regional differences in our regular research into how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting people's lives.
"Levels of worry and concern are high across all countries and regions, with many of us keeping in touch with families and friends, but we also find differences in how lockdown has affected people around Great Britain.
"People in London were more likely to be working from home, with those in the East and East Midlands least likely, for example. Those in Scotland and the North East were most optimistic about their household finances. People in the South West have been most likely to check on their neighbours. We also found that people in Wales tend to have access to a garden, unlike Londoners, who were more likely to use public parks."
James P Harris, Cities Statistician, Office for National StatisticsBack to table of contents
This bulletin presents data and indicators at the country and region level from a new module being undertaken through the Office for National Statistics' (ONS') Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) to understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on British society.
National level results are reported in the Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain series of bulletins. In this bulletin, and the associated tables of data, we present results for Wales, Scotland and the nine English regions. Where possible, we replicate results presented at the national level and also include more detailed analysis on specific topics including differences in activities people are undertaking at home, use of green spaces and attitudes toward the future outlook.
The statistics in this publication are based on a pooled dataset made by combining four waves of data collected by the OPN, providing survey data from 5,320 adults surveyed between 3 April and 3 May 2020. For simplicity, we will refer to "April" as the time period throughout this article.
More about coronavirus
Official government advice in April was for everyone to stay in their homes except for a limited number of reasons: essential shopping, medical reasons, one form of daily exercise and key workers travelling to work where it is not possible to work from home. Additional rules and guidance were also instigated in Scotland and Wales, but these results are for awareness of the above restrictions only.
In April, 83% of people said that they had followed the government's Stay at home guidelines, and virtually everybody, 96% of respondents, supported or strongly supported the government's Stay at home measures.
When asked what had helped them cope while staying at home in April, 79% of people reported that friends and family had helped. Most areas were close to average, but the North East at 73% and East Midlands at 74% were lower, and friends and family of people in both Scotland and the South East were more useful in helping 83% of people to cope. Although slightly more women than men reported that friends and family had helped them to cope (84% compared with 74%), the South West and West Midlands were the only areas where men relied on friends and family slightly more than women relied on friends and family. In April, 57% of people also said that people in their household had helped them to cope, with countries and regions all being between 52% and 61% and showing no significant differences.
After personal relationships, the next most commonly used coping strategy was exercise (either indoors or outdoors), where 63% of people said that exercise had helped them to cope while at home during April. Women were slightly more likely to use exercise to cope than men (66% compared with 60%), especially in Yorkshire and The Humber and the South East. It was only in Wales where men were more likely to cope by using exercise than women.
Slightly more than half (51%) of people aged 16 to 64 years who were in employment used work as a means of coping while staying at home in April. This percentage varied from 47% in the North East to 56% in Wales, with little overall difference between areas. In Great Britain as a whole, there was little difference between men and women. However, 60% of men in the East of England and 56% of men in Scotland used work as a means to cope at home, compared with only 42% of women doing so in both areas. In the South East, London and Wales, there were also large differences where women were more likely than men to use work as a means of coping.
People in London and Scotland were the most likely to use reading as a means to cope while being at home, with 51% of people in London and 47% of people in Scotland doing so compared with the average of 43% of people across Great Britain. Londoners were also more likely than people in other areas to cook, with 49% of people reporting they used cooking as a means to cope compared with the national average of 44%. In contrast, Londoners were far less likely to use gardening to cope while at home, at 34%, compared with the 44% average. Yorkshire and The Humber, at 50%, and the South West, at 51%, contained the people most likely to use gardening as a means of coping.
Films or streaming services (including online performances or tours) were used by 61% of people to cope in April, and 54% of people also reported using other activities not already mentioned to cope from home, although those activities were fairly evenly spread between the different personal characteristics and geographies.Back to table of contents
During April, 16% of people left their house because they said they were a key worker travelling to or from work. There were slightly fewer (13%) in London, but slightly more in the North East (22%) and Wales (23%), with percentages in other areas being fairly similar. More information on people travelling to work can be found in Section 5: What people have been doing at home.
Around 62% of people left their house for the purpose of taking daily exercise in April. Only 54% of people in Wales did so, whereas people in the South and East of England were the most likely, at around 67%. People in employment were slightly more likely to leave home to undertake daily exercise compared with people not in employment (66% compared with 56%), particularly in the North East where it was 75% compared with 52%.
People in employment were more likely than people not in employment to have left their house in April because they needed to shop for necessities, had a medical need or needed to run errands (80% compared with 65%), particularly in the North East, Scotland, South West and West Midlands.
Making use of green space
Across Great Britain, 89% of people have access to a garden or (private) shared garden. However, this is heavily influenced by people in London, of whom only 74% have access to a garden. After London, it was people in the North West who were least likely to have gardens, at 86%, but people in Wales almost all had access to gardens, at 97%, closely followed by 96% of people in the East Midlands and East of England. Households with single adults living alone had least access to gardens (79%) compared with households with children or with two or more adults (91%).
As mentioned in Section 5: What people have been doing at home, 43% of people have been gardening as a means of coping while at home in April, ranging from only 34% of people in London to about half of people in Yorkshire and The Humber and the South West. However, while lacking their own garden or opportunities to do gardening, half of people in London visited a park or public green space in the past seven days during April; this is well above the average of 34% across Great Britain. It seems that people in each region have generally compensated for lack of a garden by making use of green spaces.
More information about gardens can be found in the recent release, One in eight British households has no garden.
Notes for: Reasons people left their house
- In this context, key workers are people who responded to the survey self-reporting that they had been given "key worker" status, and is not based on an official list of occupations.
In Section 5: What people have been doing at home, we reported that 79% of people reported that friends and family were helping them to cope while being at home in April and that 57% of people also said that people in their household were helping them to cope. However, in Section 4: How the coronavirus has affected people's well-being we reported that 18% of people reported that strain on their personal or work relationships had affected their well-being in April and 22% of people reported at least some feelings of loneliness.
In April, 70% of people believed that if they needed help, there were people who would be there to help them. This varied from 64% in London and 65% in the East Midlands, to 74% in Wales and 73% in the South East. More specifically, about 66% of people thought that if they needed help, then other local community members would support them during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. People were slightly more optimistic in the South West (74%) and in Scotland (71%) but least optimistic in the West Midlands (61%).
More than three-quarters of people across Great Britain thought that people were doing more things to help other people out since the coronavirus pandemic, with people in Yorkshire and The Humber and the South East slightly more optimistic, at 84%, compared with London and the North East less optimistic, at around 76%. It was in London where fewest people checked on their neighbours, with 39% of people saying they never checked on their neighbours and 48% saying they checked at least once. The most neighbourly area was the South West, where 64% of people checked on their neighbours at least once and only 24% had never checked.
However, in terms of doing errands for a neighbour, such as shopping or walking dogs, the countries and regions are far more comparable. On average, around 31% of people helped their neighbours at least once during April, varying from 26% in the North West to 36% in Yorkshire and The Humber and the East Midlands.Back to table of contents
About half (51%) of people felt they had enough information about the UK's plan for dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in April, varying from 44% in London to 59% in the East of England. About 30% of people did not feel they had enough information; this was highest in Scotland (35%). About 18% of people were not sure whether they had enough information.
In April, 17% of people thought it would take more than 12 months for life to return to normal, if it ever does, and people were slightly pessimistic about the financial position of their household over the coming 12 months. Around 15% of people thought their finances would become better, 43% thought it would remain the same, and 42% thought it would get worse. In Scotland and the North East, around half of people thought their finances would remain the same in the coming 12 months, contrasting with the South East and East Midlands where only 36% of people thought so. People in employment were more likely to expect their finances to worsen than people not in employment, especially in London and the South East.
Back to table of contents
For this survey, a person is said to be "in employment" if they had a paid job, either as an employee or self-employed; they did any casual work for payment; or they did any unpaid or voluntary work in the previous week.Back to table of contents
The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) is a monthly omnibus survey. In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we adapted the OPN to become a weekly survey used to collect data on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on day-to-day life in Great Britain.
To enable more detailed analysis, such as the subnational breakdowns presented in this bulletin, four waves of this weekly OPN data have been pooled together and reweighted to create a larger dataset. By pooling data, we improve the sample size available to create smaller breakdowns of individual questions at the expense of having to report on a wider time period (one month rather than one week).
This pooled dataset contains 5,320 individual responses, representing an overall response rate of 66% for the waves of the survey conducted from 3 April to 3 May 2020. Survey responses were collected using an online self-completion questionnaire, with the option to take part over the phone.
The survey results are weighted to be a representative sample for the population. Weights were first adjusted for non-response and attrition, then calibrated to satisfy population distributions considering the following factors: sex by age, country or region, tenure, highest qualification, employment status, National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) group and smoking status. For age, sex and geography, population totals based on projections of mid-year population estimates for April 2020 were used. The resulting weighted sample is therefore representative of the Great Britain adult population by a number of socio-demographic factors and geography.
Some survey questions asked for people's responses in reference to "the past seven days". These results have been presented representing people's views during the month of April, even though people's attitudes may have changed slightly between different waves in April.
As some breakdowns are sourced from different-sized samples of people, confidence intervals have been included in the associated datasets where possible to indicate the robustness and significance of each estimated result.Back to table of contents
The main strengths of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) include:
it allows for timely production of data and statistics that can respond quickly to changing needs
it meets data needs: the questionnaire is developed with customer consultation, and design expertise is applied in the development stages
robust methods are adopted for the survey's sampling and weighting strategies to limit the impact of bias
quality assurance procedures are undertaken throughout the analysis stages to minimise the risk of error
The main limitations of the OPN include:
- the sample size is relatively small, although making use of a pooled dataset containing multiple waves of responses allows for more detailed analyses
- comparisons between periods and groups must be done with caution as estimates are provided from a sample survey; as such, confidence intervals are included in the datasets to present the sampling variability, which should be taken into account when assessing differences between periods, as true differences may not exist
More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the OPN QMI.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 (0)1329 444656