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Whilst the coronavirus has been at its height in the UK in the past few weeks, the overall outlook of people from DE social grades has stayed at a relatively similar level from summer last year (i.e. semi-skilled/ unskilled manual occupations, unemployed and lowest grade occupations). Confidence among the lowest social group has dipped – but only by a small margin.

In contrast, there have been significant drops in the outlook of those from AB, C1 and C2 social grades (i.e. Higher, intermediate managerial, administrative, professional occupations; Supervisory, clerical & junior managerial, administrative, professional occupations; Skilled manual occupations). The overall outlook of C1C2s is now in line with that of the DE group.

The outlook on life in general across social groups is now much more uniform, driven by steeper drops in the higher social grades.


Though there are likely many factors at play, upheaval appears to be one element playing a role in the steeper decline in outlook among higher social grades. C2 social grades in particular (skilled manual occupations) are more likely to have been put on a furlough scheme (21% vs 14% GB average), whilst AB and C1 social grades are more likely to have adopted remote working practices; 46% and 45% respectively, compared to 22% of C2 and 15% of DE social grades.

Experience varies

Whilst we see that the overall negative outlook is broadly consistent across social groups, it is important to note that there are very different experiences sitting beneath this. For example, stress and fear are most likely to be felt by DE social grades currently (32% and 26% respectively), whilst C2 social groups are more likely to be feeling confused (16%). Over half of AB and C1 social groups are feeling uncertain. This demonstrates just some of the ways that emotions and experiences vary depending on socioeconomic group in recent weeks.

Understanding different groups in society

Given the potential long-term impact of Covid-19 on overall health (mental health in particular) and inequality across the UK, it is vital that we understand how the lockdown and social distancing measures affect different groups in society, particularly the vulnerable and marginalised. It will be crucial in the coming weeks and months to understand the human and emotion sitting behind the numbers.

At ICM we get beneath the surface to view experiences at a deeper level, to provide greater understanding and more impact as a result.


If you are interested in finding out more about this, or would like to understand the experiences of different groups, please get in touch at enquiries@icmunlimited.com and we would be glad to help!

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