ONS COVID-19 Briefing: Personal and Economic Wellbeing

Briefing: 22 June 2020

Released 18 June 2020

Personal and economic wellbeing in Great Britain: June 2020

Estimates looking across personal and economic wellbeing covering the period from 20 March to 7 June 2020, to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people and households in Great Britain.

This is the latest briefing on the Healthy Suffolk website, but the ONS may have published further updates. You can find historical information on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website. 

Key points:

  • The assessment of life overall, such as our life satisfaction and feeling that the things we do are worthwhile, have remained subdued since 20 March 2020.
  • As average anxiety has fallen, the time we think it will take for things to return to normal has increased, with one in four of us expecting it will take over a year or will never go back to normal.
  • An estimated 12.5 million people say their households have been affected financially by the impacts of COVID-19
  • The share of employees and self-employed actively working fell in the first two weeks of lockdown and remained comparable up to 7 June 2020, at 67.0% and 79.9% respectively.
  • There are some signs of increasing economic inequality, with more people on lower personal incomes reporting reduced income in the household because of the coronavirus as lockdown has continued, working fewer hours, and being less able to save for the future, while fewer people with higher incomes have been impacted financially.
  • Parents were more than twice as likely to report reduced income, less than half were able to cover a large necessary expense, and they were more likely to have been furloughed than adults without children in the house, with over 20% finding childcare impacting their work.
  • Since the easing of some restrictions, average life satisfaction worsened for those with a health condition before bouncing back to the level comparable with those without a health condition in the latest period up to 7 June.

Context:

 

What has changed during lockdown

 

Personal wellbeing headline estimates 
  • Anxiety and happiness have improved since lockdown, while life satisfaction remains diminished, as does feeling that the things we do are worthwhile.
  • Through the peak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and as lockdown was extended, average anxiety levels flattened out and now remain at 75% of those seen in the first week of lockdown. Similarly, average happiness is 11% higher than it was in the first week of lockdown.
Expectations for when life will go back to normal
  • More people think it will take longer for their life to return to normal. In the four days up to 7 June, 24.6% said that it will take more than a year for their life to return to normal, or that it never would.
  • Even after lockdown restrictions had been eased, a greater proportion of employees felt that their work was being affected by the coronavirus, with 64.8% saying so in the four days to 24 May, up from 47.7% in the 11 days leading up to 10 May.
  • Workplaces slowly re-opening safely, despite with reduced numbers and social distancing, could impact expectation on work being affected.
Increasing concerns about future economic prospects
  • People's expectations for the general economic situation fell at their fastest rate between the period before lockdown in March 2020, and April 2020, then fell further in May 2020.
  • The expectations for the general economy for the year ahead are at their worst level recorded.

How has lockdown changed for different parts of the population

Impacts to work

  • The share of employees and self-employed actively working fell in the first two weeks of lockdown and remained comparable up to 7 June 2020.
  • This is likely due to a combination of people being furloughed, not able to work due to temporary business closures, self-isolating, caring, or being sick.

Impacts to finances

  • Self-employed were more likely to be affected than employees - with the proportion reporting reduced household income staying broadly stable between the beginning of lockdown and 7 June, despite grants for the self-employed starting to come through from the end of May.
  • There was a worsening for low-income individuals. Those with total annual income between £10,000 and £20,000 experienced reduced income, with 26% being impacted in the four days to 24 May, an increase of 15 percentage points from the 11 days up to 20 April.
  • There was some improvement in finances for high-income individuals. For those with total annual income of £40,000 or higher, only 3.2% could not afford a one-off expense of £850 in the four days to 17 May, compared with 13.4% in the 11 days to 20 April.

Anxiety differences between sexes

  • Anxiety has fallen slightly more for men when compared with women, with overall decreases of 22.6% and 14.7% respectively, though women were consistently reporting higher anxiety on average than men.

Life satisfaction for those with a health condition

  • Since the easing of some measures of lockdown by 10 May 2020, those with a health condition have experienced a decrease in life satisfaction. This is likely because the new freedoms may not apply to those at higher risk or are ‘shielding’.

DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED GROUPS

Parents
  • Parents' finances were more impacted during the initial weeks of lockdown (3 April to 10 May), when compared with adults in households with no children.
  • Parents were nearly twice as likely to report that they had been furloughed (13.6%) when compared with those without children (7.2%).
  • Of all adults with children in the household, 62.7% reported that the coronavirus had impacted their work, which was marginally higher than those without children in the household.
  • Of all adults with children in the household, 21.2% reported that their work had been affected because of having to work around childcare. However, fewer parents (30.0%) reported that they had been unable to work from home when compared with those without children (36.8%).
  • Parents were also less economically prepared for the future, as they were 20.5% less likely to say they can save for the year ahead. This was significantly fewer compared with those without children in the house, 42.9% of whom reported they would be able to save for the year ahead.
  • 45.1% of parents reported being able to afford an unexpected but necessary expense of £850. For those without children in the household, a significantly higher proportion of 60.8% responded that they would be able to afford this unexpected expense.
  • Parents from all income bands similarly reported that they were confident in their ability to home-school (between 43.1% and 55.1%), and between 68.8% and 75.6% agreed that their children continued to learn whilst being home-schooled.
  • Home-schooling was having a more negative effect on parents' jobs in higher income bands - 43.6% of those with gross income of £40,000 or more per year, compared with 24.3% of those earning between £20,000 and £40,000, and less on lower incomes.
Self-employed
  • Half of self-employed people reported having reduced financial income, more than twice as likely as employees. The larger difference in reduced income was most likely driven by the higher percentage of self-employed (27.2%) who reported a reduction of hours worked during the same period, while a third had experienced temporary closures to their businesses.
  • Self-employed were being less economically prepared for the future, as 20.8% said they used savings to cover living costs during the period, and just 27.5% reporting that they would be able to save for the year ahead.
People with low and middle personal incomes
  • Those on overall personal incomes of up and including £10,000 to £20,000 were the most likely to have experienced reduced income - this could be because of those on lower incomes being the most likely to report being unable to work from home, with one in two reporting not being able to.
  • Those on personal incomes of £20,000 to £40,000 annually were more likely to have been furloughed compared with the other income bands, at 12.7%, followed closely by those earning between £10,000 and £20,000 annually at 11.1%.
Those who felt unsafe due to the coronavirus
  • Compared with people who reported feeling safe, those who reported feeling unsafe or very unsafe because of the coronavirus were 76.4% more likely to have had a financial impact from the coronavirus up to 10 May, with 34.0% of them saying their finances had been impacted by the coronavirus.
  • 25.9% of those reporting they felt unsafe or very unsafe reported that they would be able to save for the year ahead, compared with 38.1% of those feeling very safe and 49.5% of those feeling safe.
Those who felt lonely
  • Those who said they often or always feel lonely were less likely than others to work from home, with 25.6% reporting working from home, compared with 46.7% for those who never feel lonely.
  • Half of those reporting feeling lonely also reported struggling to get groceries (including toiletries and medicines), compared with 31.4% of those who hardly ever feel lonely, and 29.0% of those who never feel lonely. They were also more likely to report not feeling safe at home.
  • People with annual income up to £20,000 were more likely to report feeling often or always lonely than those with incomes of £20,000 and above.