top of page

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine affects the cost-of-living crisis in the UK.

With the war in Ukraine raging on with no sign of stopping - the UK has been affected badly, and we are in a cost-of-living crisis, energy prices, food prices, and house prices are at the highest they have ever been. A combination of these elements has resulted in an increase in NHS wait times at A&E and treatment waiting lists.

By Kathleen De-Vall March 2023

Screenshot 2023-02-07 at 05.52.11.png

Image rights Associated Press

Ukraine emergency employees and volunteers carrying a pregnant lady out of a bombed maternity ward in Mariupol Ukraine.                                                                                        

The everyday things that we need to live comfortably have been affected by the cost-of-living crisis. Increased food and energy prices have affected how people shop and heat their homes. This in turn has affected many of us across the country by increasing the number of people who utilise the NHS because of a lack of nutrition and illnesses due to the cold weather, which has resulted in a spike in admissions over the last 12 months.

 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means we pay more for energy and food.

Russia produces 10 million barrels of crude oil daily and the price of this oil has gone up from £50/£60 to £125 a barrel. The war in Ukraine has had a direct impact on the world's supply and pushed the price up, so it now costs more for us to buy the oil which is used to transport food, and this increase has been passed on to the consumer.

This graph shows the increase of the price of crude oil – House of Commons Library

This also applies to the way we grow food. In the UK we grow tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce and this requires energy 365 days a year because we use LED lighting. Russia is also the largest producer of natural gas and the world's markets depend on its exports. Since their invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent bans on importing Russian gas, the price of natural gas, which is used to produce electricity, has gone up by 40%, in the UK.

Screenshot 2023-03-03 at 06.25.46.png
The graph shows the spike in the price of natural gas around the time of the Ukraine war.

British Gas alone published 3bn in profits and has been insisting that customers in debt have prepaid metres put in as bills are set to sour to up to £3,000 in April. Chris O'Shea the CEO of Centrica the parent company of British Gas stated to Energy Live News:

“The current cost of living crisis requires all of us to think differently. “As a responsible business, we want to do more to support our customers during this

difficult time. Committing 10% of our profits for the duration of the energy crisis will mean we can target and help those who need it the most.”

Screenshot 2023-04-10 at 11.13.05.png

There is also a correlation between the increase in food prices, the price of natural gas and energy prices. The graphs above show that between 2021 and 2022, the prices of food and natural gas both increased.

The main issue causing the UK to be vulnerable is its reliance on fossil fuels. The government has to withdraw from using them altogether and change to renewable energy supplies this would not only be good for the economy but the environment as well.

 According to the graph above, food prices in the UK have gone up by 13.1% between the middle of 2021, when the invasion of Ukraine started, and August 2022. Because of food poverty, the reliance on food banks has increased too and now even more people across the country are using food banks more than ever before.

Reliance across the country has gone up yearly, this is most prevalent in London and surrounding areas, which is surprising considering London is such a wealthy city that has an abundance of work opportunities. The Trussell Trust is just one organisation that gives out emergency food parcels, and this has increased each year from 2014 – 2022.

During the pandemic, the demand for these parcels rose sharply.  Pre-pandemic food parcel demand was 10% each year but between 2019-2021, demand for food parcels rose by approximately 30%.

Screenshot 2023-02-17 at 10.50.49.png
Screenshot 2023-02-24 at 11.30.24.png

Statistics from the Trussell Trust – food bank usage.

Then the cost of house prices and inflation

Inflation has gone up from 0.5% to 4.5% which has increased not only food prices but house prices by 9.8%. This has also affected mortgage rates and the amount people have to pay each month on their monthly instalments.

People have become homeless because of the cost-of-living crisis. Homelessness is happening to normal hardworking people that can no longer afford the mortgage instalments.

House Price Index Statistics
Who is actually being affected?

Ella a singer in a band called The Dirty Half Hundred has decided to take a stand and help the homeless by going on the streets of London, with a charity called Help 4 The Homeless, to give out hot food, blankets and support. I asked the band why now?  

Interview with the Dirty Half Hundred on helping the homeless

Click the image to hear the audio

How are care workers coping to give vital care?

It can be seen from the graphs that energy prices have gone up at an exponential rate since Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine along with food and fuel prices increasing at the same time. How has this affected Caroline Bing a care worker that uses her own car to travel to clients’ homes to give them the vital care that they need?

I spoke to Caroline Bing about how she has been struggling since the cost-of-living crisis and as a British Gas customer, if she knew how to take advantage of the 10% that British Gas are offering.

As a carer, you travel from house to house giving vital care to people that might only see you in a day, how important to those people?

It is really vital as some of the care is time frame medication so you have to make sure that you are there, these are generally morning, lunchtime and bedtime calls.  As a carer, I am very aware that I might be the only person that my clients will see and what we do not only gives them physical support by emotional support.

Have you noticed an increase in fuel when you fill your car up, as I understand carers get some money per mile has that gone up?

“We used to get 25 pence a mile at first now it’s gone up to 30 pence per mile, work does give me an allowance on top of that, but where I spend £400 a month they only give me half of that; plus I have to wait two weeks and so I am picking up the shortfall as its come out my own pocket.

So, everyone has noticed food has increased and energy prices have gone up how are you dealing with that?

“I am on zero hours contract and only get paid for the calls that I do, I have to do a certain amount of calls to make enough money to pay to live. It is getting to the point where the calls are not covering the money I have to pay out.”

You are a British Gas customer did you know that the CEO is offering 10% of their 3bn profits back to customers?

“No, I have no idea that this was being offered, I live in a studio flat and only have a bathroom, bedroom, hallway and kitchen to heat. It cost me £5 a day and only put on one storage heater at a time. I can see that the cost of this has gone up significantly, in the last two years.” I went on to ask Caroline, has the government supported you enough to do your job considering the increase in food, fuel and energy?

“ It shouldn’t be allowed that the care agencies pay carers per call and we should also be paid an hourly rate for travel time this would help me massively then I feel I would be getting a wage that I could actually live on not just exist on.

I also wanted to understand the struggle that someone on benefits has with the cost-of-living crisis, so I also spoke to Haley Kendrick a mother of a child under two of age and asked if she can still afford to heat her home and buy her weekly shop. She said, “The price of everything has gone up and what makes it harder now is that the branded things that would be out of my reach are becoming out of reach to everyone, as I have noticed that products I would normally be able to afford are no longer available.” She went on to say, “I now can no longer heat the whole of my house and I have to heat the room that I am in at the time to ensure that I keep the cost low.”

I went on to ask Haley, being a mother of a child under two do you think the government has done enough to help and support you throughout these difficult times? “The cost-of-living payments have been good and helpful but they were too far apart we got through the winter we are nearly in spring now and I have not had anything in five months.”

 I also asked Haley her opinion on whether she thinks the government have made up the shortfall in the 13% increase in food prices.

She replied, “No, I don’t think they have given me enough to cover the shortfall and even though the fuel payments are helpful they need to deal with the route cause and get food prices down.”

 

How this has affected the NHS.

The health of the population will undoubtedly be affected by the cost-of-living crisis that has been brought on by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The correlation between all the data found from the NHS waiting list statistics, interest rate increases, a reliance on food banks along with energy prices and food price inflation - all of these factors affect people’s living standards and life expectancy, this is something that can only be measured in years to come.

The first two data sets are from the House of Commons Library to substantiate this correlation.  I also conducted an online poll asking - how long have you waited in A&E in the past year.

This gives validity to the House of Commons data

Screenshot 2023-03-09 at 10.47.39.png

The graphs show that not only A&E wait times have been affected but the waiting list for treatment has spiked towards the end of 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Screenshot 2023-03-09 at 10.46.58.png

This is an online poll that shows how long people have waited in A&E over the last year. This was put on social media, the poll validates the House of Commons data. 

Screenshot 2023-03-07 at 17.08.53.png

My own online poll indicates the increase in wait times.

 

The cost-of-living crisis is very much happening. It has affected inflation and had an effect on food, fuel, energy and house prices. What it has also affected is the wait times in A&E and NHS waiting lists. 

Therefore, the cost-of-living crisis has had an impact on the overall health of the country this can be seen by the poll done on social media and the data found in the House of Commons Library. No matter our wealth we are reliant on the world market because of our dependence on fossil fuels. Our government needs to find a faster and greener way to produce our own energy to warm our homes and transport and grow our food. 

What is unprecedented, and hard to deal with is that more people from all walks of life are struggling to keep up with the increase in their energy bills, buy food or pay their mortgages - from a care worker that struggles to provide vital care to business owners struggling to stay open, to working families and those on benefits. Hard-working people are going out on the streets to help the homeless because it can be seen there is a big problem with the infrastructure of Britain today. Opportunities, good living standards and even and safe warm place to call their own are becoming out of reach or harder to maintain. 

bottom of page