One in five alone during COVID-19 lockdown

Tanya AbrahamResearch Director of Political and Social Research
March 30, 2020, 10:48 AM GMT+0

Following the introduction of strict measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, YouGov research asks how people feel about their current living arrangements – and whether they’re optimistic about the coming weeks

Limiting unnecessary interaction between people is key to slowing the spread of coronavirus, and under Government rules people may only leave their home to shop for essential items, exercise or travel for “absolutely necessary” work or medical reasons. Given this highly unusual situation, YouGov has polled the British public to gauge how they are feeling.

One in five are living alone

A fifth of Britons say they are living alone during lockdown. A third (33%) of those aged over 65 are in this position, but just 9% of 18 to 24 year olds are too.

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Some 8% of those who live alone say they feel downbeat at the moment, and nearly three in ten think this will either worsen (23%) or remain negative (5%) over the next few weeks.

Given the limitations to daily routines and human interaction, such groups are likely to be among the most vulnerable. But following an NHS recruitment drive, at the time of writing, over 400,000 people have signed up in a single day to volunteer and help deliver food and medicine, drive patients to appointments and phone those in isolation.

During this period, there may also be multi-generational living arrangements. Of those currently living with their parents, many say they’re also living with their siblings (45%), children (13%) or grandparents (2%).

There are also indications of moving in with friends or family: around one in seven of those currently living with siblings (15%) or parents (13%) say they are temporarily living elsewhere, whilst 16% of those currently living with siblings say someone else has moved into their home.

Nearly one in ten are unhappy about current living arrangements

Overall three in four (72%) Britons are feeling positive about their current living situation, whilst a fifth (19%) are indifferent however almost a tenth (8%) are negative.

Positivity increases with age, with four in five over 65s feeling positive (83%). Younger people, such as those aged between 18 and 24, are more unsettled; just over half of this group (56%) feel this way.

However, those who feel negative at the moment are more likely to be living elsewhere temporarily or have moved out of their home (10%).

Londoners are feeling the most negative

Whilst the majority of Britons say they are living as normal in their home due to the coronavirus outbreak, nearly one in seven (13%) Londoners say they have moved out of their home or are living elsewhere and 8% have had someone else move into their home.

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Londoners are less positive than other regions (61% compared to 72% or higher in other regions) when asked how they feel about their current living arrangement.

To some extent, housing tenure also has an impact. In Britain, 7% of renters say they have moved temporarily and positivity is much lower amongst this group (65%) compared to owners (78%).

Future optimism about living arrangements due to the outbreak looks set to decline

With the mandatory lockdown set to last at least three weeks and face-to-face contact restricted to just those in your household, how do Brits foresee coping with their living arrangements?

Whilst the majority are currently in good spirits, this falls to just half who think they will either remain positive (39%) or be more positive (14%) in the next few weeks. A quarter (23%) of Brits think their positivity will wane and a third of Londoners (33%) also feel this way.

Looking specifically at those who are currently positive, two in three think they will either remain cheerful (51%) or further improve their mood (16%) in the next few weeks. However, a plurality (43%) of those who are currently feeling negative will continue in this funk whilst the lockdown is under way.

How do you feel about spending more time with the people you have to live with?

Around four in five of those currently living with partners (81%) or children (83%) are generally happy to spend more time together. When it comes to those living with siblings and parents, the results are a little less clear cut. Whilst two in three say they are currently happy to spend more time with each of these groups (63% siblings, 63% parents), one in ten feel the opposite (9% unhappy with siblings, 10% unhappy with parents).

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Looking ahead to the next few weeks, the relationship with children from a parental perspective may be better, with two in five parents (40%) anticipating a healthier bond.

Cracks may begin to show, however, for those in confinement with their parents, siblings and partners as a tenth say these relationships could get worse (10% say worse with a partner, 13% say worse for a sibling, and 15% say worse for a parent). There is also significant pressure on parents during the school term; of those living with children, 14% think their relationship with their partner will worsen over the next few weeks.

Image: Getty

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