What do Britons think of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
January 21, 2021, 12:04 PM UTC

Six in ten say the Government has done a bad job handling the issue overall

It has been nearly a year since the first case of COVID-19, and most Britons say that the government has handled the pandemic badly overall, as well in several key areas aside from the vaccine rollout.

Overall, six in ten (60%) people say the government is handling the pandemic badly as a whole; including 31% who say the issue of COVID-19 has been “very badly” handled. Just over a third of Britons (37%) they have handled it well, although only 5% say they have handled it “very well”.

Approval of the government’s overall handling of the pandemic is highest among Conservatives (68%), and lower among Lib Dems (20%) and Labour supporters (13%).

Britons are split on how well the government is protecting jobs, and think they’re doing badly at resourcing the NHS and controlling the spread of the virus

The survey also asked how Britons think the government is managing specific aspects of the pandemic. When it comes to protecting people’s jobs and income Britons are split, with 48% thinking the government has done well and 44% thinking it has done badly. Conservatives are again most likely to think the government has been effectively protecting jobs and income, at 70%, compared to nearly half of Lib Dems (48%) and a quarter of Labour voters (24%).

In terms of ensuring the NHS has the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, Britons are more critical of the government. Half (53%) say the government has handled this badly, including 27% who say this part of the pandemic response has been handled “very badly”. Four in ten (39%) think handling of NHS resources has been managed well.

The area Britons feel the government has performed worst in is limiting the spread of the virus, which 70% of people think the government has done badly. Nearly half (49%) of Conservative voters agree, as do 90% of Labour supporters and 87% of Lib Dems.

Britons think the government is doing well at rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine

There is one element of the UK’s pandemic response that Britons think is being handled well however; : the rollout of the various COVID-19 vaccines. Our latest figures show that 61% of people now think the rollout is being handled well, including 19% who say it is being handled “very well”. However, three in ten (29%) think the vaccine rollout is being handled badly.

Opinion had been split when we asked this question on 7 January: 41% thought the government is handling the rollout well then, compared to 45% who thought the rollout was being handled badly.

Along party lines, 81% of Conservatives (+17 from the earlier poll), 68% of Lib Dems (+37), and 48% of Labour voters (+24) all say the rollout is being handled well. However, a similar number of Labour voters (44%) think the rollout is being handled badly, as do 27% of Lib Dems, and 15% of Conservatives.

See overall pandemic handling results here

See specific pandemic issues handling results here

See vaccine rollout handling results here