Britons feel less satisfied than ever since pandemic began

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·3-min read
Unemployment
The UK unemployment rate reached its highest level in more than three years, figures revealed earlier this month. Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Satisfaction levels among Britons have reached their lowest point since the country went into national lockdown, government data has revealed.

In its weekly release on the social impacts of coronavirus, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that in the week ending 18 October levels of satisfaction had tumbled to the lowest point since the start of the pandemic.

More than three-quarters (76%) of adults said they were very or somewhat worried about the effect of the coronavirus on their life right now, the survey showed, while levels of anxiety, worry and loneliness climbed to record highs.

This was an increase from 64% at the end of the summer, with affected personal travel plans and a lack of freedom and independence being reported as the main concerns as the country braces a second COVID wave.

A similar percentage of adults in local lockdown areas said that they are very or somewhat worried about the effect of the coronavirus on their life right now, compared with those not in local lockdown - 78% compared with 76%.

Areas such as London and Essex are now under “high alert” tier two rules, while Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool City have moved into the highest coronavirus alert level of Tier 3.

Tier 3 restrictions mean that all social mixing indoors and in private gardens is prohibited, and that pubs and bars will close. In addition to these measures, gyms and leisure centres, betting centres, adult game centres and casinos will also close.

READ MORE: How to handle financial anxiety during a pandemic

Of those who said their well-being has been affected by the health crisis, 64% also said they felt worried about the future, and 60% admitted that they felt stressed or anxious.

Anxiety levels among adults remained at the highest score since the beginning of April. Around four in 10 (37%) people reported high anxiety levels, compared with 33% the week before.

The ONS said that the proportion of adults with high levels of anxiety, and who are worried about the impact of coronavirus, has been on the rise since early September. Anxiety levels are being raised not just by fears around the coronavirus but also the impact on jobs and finances.

The UK unemployment rate reached its highest level in more than three years, figures revealed earlier this month. It is expected to rise in November once the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end.

The ONS analysed responses from 1,653 adults in the UK to its Opinions and Lifestyle survey which included 280 adults with dependent children.

Marcus Hamilton, director of social network Frindow, said that the drop in the life satisfaction score “shows the relentless toll the pandemic is taking on people’s mental health.”

“If the early months of the pandemic felt surreal, for many people things are now starting to feel very real, especially with more people losing their jobs or facing an almost impossible financial situation.

“People are used to freedom and independence and having their ability to socialise restricted, coupled with extreme economic uncertainty, is having a major impact on health and well-being.

“Lockdowns may be a circuit breaker for the virus but they are perfect breeding ground for loneliness, stress and anxiety. For many people, the psychological impact of Covid-19 can be as brutal as the illness itself.”

Watch: Coronavirus restrictions tighten in London