You are on the Natcen site

Click here for Scotcen

natcen map

You are on the Natcen site

Click here for Scotcen

natcen map

Responding to COVID-19

As leaders in social research, we know the impacts of COVID-19 will shape society for years to come. While the disruption is extraordinary, it’s vital to assess how our lives are changing. The public’s priorities are also critical for policy making and the path out of the pandemic.

At NatCen, we’re generating new solutions to collect robust and relevant data. We’re finding out how older people are coping, and tracking people’s time use during lockdown. We’ve helped evaluate the contact tracing app pilot on the Isle of Wight. Now, we’re working on the major COVID-19 infection study to assess prevalence of the disease in the UK.

Society’s shift to online interaction is changing research today and in the future. We’ve pushed the boundaries, with the UK’s first probability-based online and telephone panel and its first online deliberative poll using videoconferencing. Today, we see this online capacity as key to unlocking the sector's response to Coronavirus.

Work with us

Online and offline, we’re questioning orthodoxies to deliver research where it's needed. Success is coming through working in close partnership with customers. Get in touch to speak with us about applying our cutting-edge methods in your area of interest.

Recent publications

  • NatCen is leading an ESRC-funded project to examine which groups have been hardest hit by the immediate and longer-term financial and mental health impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, using data from monthly updates to Understanding Society, the UK household longitudinal study.

    The first output of the study, a briefing paper on the socioeconomic and mental health trajectories through the COVID-19 pandemic, investigates who was hit the hardest by the initial shock to the UK economy and the lockdown restrictions introduced, and how they have recovered since then.
  • The ELSA COVID-19 substudy, part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, shaping national understanding of the impact of the crisis on over 50s, is now available on the project's website. While conducting the study, we used a support telephone line to help older people participate online, not in place of face-to-face interaction but as part of an integrated and affordable model.
  • The Wellcome Monitor is an ongoing study of the British adult population’s awareness and knowledge of, engagement with, and attitudes towards science and health research. This year, the survey fieldwork was run shortly after the implementation of lockdown in the UK, and additional questions were included looking at people’s experiences of the Coronavirus outbreak, their views on the restrictions being put in place, and their trust in the information being provided.
  • The online Time Use Study for the Office for National Statistics, run using a sample from the NatCen Opinion Panel, is assessing how people are living under lockdown. A preliminary data analysis was released on 27 May.

Some of our current studies

  • For Public Health England, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey are conducting an online follow-up study of participants from the last four years of the survey to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the diet, nutrition and physical activity of the UK population.
  • The Department for Education has commissioned us for a special survey of families taking part in SEED, the Study of Early Education and Development, a major research project into child development. This new survey will help reveal how COVID-19, and the associated lockdown, has affected children and families in England. It will investigate what challenges they have faced relating to school closures, completing school work at home, family welfare and children’s mental health.

  • Commissioned by the Scottish Government, the team at ScotCen has adapted this year's Scottish Health Survey to be completed via a telephone interview, rather than face to face. Continuing the survey in this way will help to provide a better understanding of the health and lifestyles of people in Scotland during these challenging times. As well as many of the usual survey measures, the telephone survey will also determine whether participants had coronavirus and explore any changes to key health determinants such as drinking, smoking, and weight, during the outbreak.

  • We are taking the English Housing Survey online with a follow-up study tracking the impacts of the pandemic.

  • For the Department for Transport, we are carrying out a new National Travel Attitudes Study (NTAS), to understand people’s views on travel and transport in today’s world. Read more about the study here.

  • The Bus Drivers survey for University College London and TfL seeks to better understand why London bus drivers are more likely than others to contract and die from COVID-19. It is a detailed online survey looking at bus company activity in response to the pandemic, how safe drivers felt in their work, in their home life and their health. It has been sent to all 25,000 drivers in London.

  • The Education Endowment Foundation has commissioned us to evaluate the national Online Tuition Pilot. This major project aims to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 school closures on the attainment gap. As evaluation partner we will help tutoring organisations, schools and policy makers to best support students at risk of falling behind.

  • Our continuous Family Resources Survey, led by ONS for the Department for Work and Pensions, which consists of one-hour face-to-face interviews has moved to telephone in response to the pandemic.

  • We're exploring the views of DWP payment claimants following the change to the benefit assessments process since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • NatCen and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been asked by NHS Digital to carry out the National Study of Health and Wellbeing: Children and Young People 2021, following up with participants of the 2017 study. It is taking place across England during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and seeks to understand the impact of the pandemic, lockdown and school closures on children and young peoples’ wellbeing.

  • Our consultation with UKRI-funded doctoral students aims to understand student's experiences of UKRI’s extension policies, the wider effects of COVID-19 on their work and wellbeing, and the mitigating strategies and support that institutions have offered.

  • As part of our wider programme of work centring around the annual Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers for DfE, we are running a web survey of childcare providers in England to understand more about how the early years sector has been affected by COVID-19.

Methodology, training and expertise

In response to the Coronavirus, we have taken our training courses, delivered in partnership with the Social Research Association, online. You can find out more and browse the latest online courses at NatCen Learning.

Our monthly free seminar series, in partnership with City University and the European Social Survey, have also moved online. Recordings of the latest methodology webinars are available here.

Our researchers are leading debates about relevant and robust social research in the context of COVID-19. In our new partnership with the National Centre for Research Methods, we’ll play a key role in building research methods capacity in the UK.

  • Interviewer opportunity

    We are looking to recruit fieldworkers to gather data for this critical piece of research to measure the extent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Read more

  • Commission us

    We are Britain’s largest independent social research organisation with highly skilled and specialised research teams and with over 50 years of experience.

    If you’d like to work with us, please get in touch at

    Fund a question on the NatCen Opinion Panel or the British Social Attitudes survey and understand what the British public thinks about the issues important to you.

    NatCen Opinion Panel

    Britain’s first probability-based online and telephone panel

    Running six times a year, our omnibus survey offers the chance to quickly gauge public opinion and behaviour using robust methods.

    British Social Attitudes

    The UK’s longest-running survey of public opinion

    Each year since 1983 we ask around 3,000 people what it's like to live in Britain and what they think about how Britain is run.