Message from WBC:

Residents’ views on the impact of Covid-19 on West Berkshire have been received and are being analysed.

West Berkshire Council undertook a survey of residents in late May to understand how communities are feeling about the impact of Covid-19 on their health, finances, on the environment and on the wider community. Almost 3,300 residents from across the district responded and the council has already used the preliminary data collected to inform its Recovery Strategy, which is being considered by Executive on 16 July.

Questions ranged from the health and wellbeing, to the economic and social impact of Covid-19. The survey also asked respondents whether they had volunteered in their community as a result of the pandemic, as well as whether they intended to in the future.

Among the key findings was: 

  • Awareness of the Community Support Hub was fairly high, at 72%.
  • Almost all respondents who were able to work from home intend to continue to do so and even more in the future.
  • Just under half (46.9%) of respondents expressed an intention to travel on foot more as a result of Covid-19.
  • 28.7% of those surveyed felt that the Covid-19 pandemic would enable them to make a positive impact on the district’s aspirations towards carbon neutrality.
  • 70.8% said they have volunteered during the pandemic and 78.2% of these intend to continue doing so.
  • 86.5% thought the council’s response to Covid-19 was either excellent, good or fair. 8.8% declined to answer with 4.7% judging it to be poor.
  • 31.9% reported a fall in household income.
  • 63.7% indicated they intended to visit local high streets either the same as before, more or much more when allowed to do so.
  • 15.3% of respondents believe that someone in their household has been infected with Covid-19.
  • 18% of respondents reported high or very high anxiety levels the days before they completed the survey.

This survey was the first of what will be a series of resident engagement exercises planned by the council as part of its Covid-19 recovery work.

As well as undertaking further surveys to track the ongoing impact of the current situation, the council intends to produce and implement a new Engagement Strategy aiming to involve the community in the development and delivery of recovery initiatives.

Commenting on the survey, Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said: “Covid-19 has changed so much about daily life for all of us here in West Berkshire and we were keen to survey residents so that we could understand what their individual experiences have been.

“Some of the things we’ve been told by residents are very positive, particularly around their appetite to volunteer, help others in the community and to support local businesses on the high street.

“Other responses are quite worrying, particularly with a third of those surveyed reporting a fall in household income. Through our recovery work, we will look at how we can get those who have been most affected back on their feet and will offer all the support we can.

“We’re also very aware that some groups who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of Covid-19, such as young people and those from the BAMER community, are under-represented among the respondents and we have employed a new Equality & Diversity Officer to look at how we can engage them more effectively.

“We would like to thank everyone who responded and we look forward to working with the community to secure a strong local recovery.”

The survey results will help us move forward with our recovery strategy and the following is what we will do in summary:   

  • Analyse information and provide this to the respective Council groups overseeing the themes to work through as part of those groups and their partners.
  • Share this information to the public so that residents can see what the results are.
  • Put in place a repeat survey (with less and some new questions) for September.
  • See how the above and initial survey alter the strategy and future actions to be developed.