Inflation, waiting lists, strikes, rail chaos, climate emergency: the 2022 polycrisis

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In mid-November Rishi Sunak was asked successful a Channel 4 interrogation to sanction 1 nationalist work that “was working, adequately, moving properly”.

The premier curate didn’t springiness a nonstop answer. But the speech feeds into an ever-more-common discourse: that the UK is facing “polycrisis” successful astir each facet of beingness successful Britain. From courts to the outgo of living, transport to healthcare, situation to the asylum strategy – everyplace appears to beryllium affected.

As the premier curate faces what he, his authorities and the public-at-large hopes volition beryllium a amended 2023, we look astatine immoderate of the galore governmental problems that marked 2022.


For astir radical surviving successful the UK, 2022 has been marked by 1 word. Inflation has pushed up the terms of astir everything with food, clothing, vigor bills, rents and involvement rates each affected.

The information shows what the families forced to take betwixt heating and eating already know: rising home substance and vigor prices person pushed user ostentation rates to levels past seen successful the 1970s.

Inflation eased somewhat to 10.7% successful the 12 months to November


With the crook of 2022 came the realisation that the worst of the Covid pandemic had passed and the anticipation that this, successful turn, would let the NHS to retrieve from the unprecedented pressures it faced arsenic a result.

However, determination has been small letup connected services each implicit the UK. In England the fig of radical connected waiting lists reached a caller grounds precocious for 2 years moving successful October, exceeding 7.2 million, yet different grounds high, with astir 2 million much crossed Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

More than 7.2 cardinal radical are waiting for NHS infirmary attraction successful England

It is acold from the lone unit being brought to carnivore connected the wellness service. As galore arsenic one successful 3 beds successful immoderate trusts are occupied by patients who are medically acceptable to spell location but cannot beryllium discharged due to the fact that they person obscurity suitable to go.

Fiscal and governmental chaos

There has arguably ne'er been a misnomer arsenic costly arsenic Kwasi Kwarteng’s alleged mini-budget, which is estimated to person cost the state a staggering £30bn.

The lb fell beneath $1.10 successful October

The resulting governmental fallout meant that Rishi Sunak became the 3rd premier curate successful 50 days. The premier ministerial churn has lone been outdone by those of their ministers successful caller years.

Recent years person seen a precocious ministerial turnover

Between 1997 and 2010, the mean tenure of six cardinal ministries – Home, Health, Treasury, Education, Foreign and Justice – stood astatine 1,057 days.

Post-Brexit turmoil, 3 reshuffles nether Boris Johnson, his eventual resignation and the chaotic quality of Liz Truss’s tenure person each contributed to bringing the Conservative’s mean ministerial tenure successful these positions to conscionable 588 days, or 44% less.

Asylum backlog

The location secretary, Suella Braverman, would person it that the UK faces an “invasion” of immigrants, but the existent ungraded was revealed astatine Manston amid concerns that it was dangerously overcrowded.

The migration centre successful Kent opened successful January 2022 and was designed to clasp 1,600 radical for nary much than 24 hours. But successful November determination were 4,000 radical there, 2.5 times implicit its capacity.

Two-thirds of asylum applications person been waiting much than six months for an archetypal decision

The British Red Cross said that problems astatine Manston “are indicative of the wider issues facing the asylum system”.

The asylum processing backlog roseate by 71% successful a twelvemonth and it is present astir doubly that of the past pre-Covid twelvemonth (2019). Three-quarters of those waiting for an archetypal determination had been waiting much than six months astatine the extremity of June.

Climate emergency

The satellite is “very, precise adjacent to irreversible changes”, Prof Johan Rockström, 1 of the world’s starring clime scientists, said successful October aft cardinal UN reports astir not capable advancement to debar a clime catastrophe.

This is not a UK-only crisis, but the state has breached respective climate-related records this year.

2022 has been 1 of the warmest years connected grounds successful the UK

2022 is connected the mode to becoming, if not the warmest, 1 of the warmest years connected record. The yearly mean somesthesia betwixt January and November successful the UK was 10.7C, the highest truthful far.

The UK registered a somesthesia much than 40C for the archetypal clip this summer, contributing to the deaths for much than 2,800 radical aged 65 and over successful England, the highest fig since the heatwave program was enactment successful spot successful 2004.

Justice delayed

The backlog successful the justness strategy is inactive acold supra pre-pandemic levels, the bequest of not conscionable tribunal closures during lockdown, but besides an overstretched and underfunded justness strategy aft 10 years of ineligible assistance cuts and tribunal closures.

The fig of outstanding transgression tribunal cases successful England and Wales soared during the pandemic

The crown tribunal transgression waiting database stood astatine much than 62,000 astatine the extremity of September, up from conscionable implicit 32,000 successful March 2019, portion the magistrates tribunal backlog stood astatine much than 358,000 – up from 304,000. Family courts are besides experiencing a ample backlog of cases.

The authorities aims to trim the crown courts backlog to 53,000 by March 2025.

A question of strikes

For the archetypal clip successful 106 years, nurses from the Royal College of Nursing took the determination to onslaught successful December. But they are not the lone workers demanding a wage emergence to support up with the rapidly rising outgo of living.

Striking workers person seen their wage driblet successful existent presumption since 2010

University staff, postal workers, firefighters, information workers, autobus drivers, railway workers and UK Border Force unit person besides announced strikes for the extremity of the year, with an mean of astir 1 onslaught a time successful December.

Rail chaos

Train operators are inactive moving acold less services than earlier the pandemic

The fig of obstruction cancellations has reached its highest level connected record – with services successful the northbound of England peculiarly affected.

That’s lone counting those trains cancelled wrong 24 hours of departure, which look connected the authoritative figures collated by the Office for Rail and Road (ORR). Separate figures obtained by the Guardian show immoderate operators are vastly under-reporting their fig of cancellations, by preemptively removing trains from the timetable.

In the 12 weeks to 12 November, Avanti West Coast – which runs services betwixt London, Manchester and Glasgow – timetabled conscionable 57% of the services it did successful 2019. About 1 successful 13 of those past went connected to beryllium cancelled connected the day.