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War in Ukraine: do UK businesses care to help?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th has fundamentally changed the political and economic landscape.

The invasion has been one of the most devastating humanitarian crises in Europe this century, spreading trauma, uncertainty, anger, and fear, across the world.

The actions taken by the Russian government have shattered the concept of peace and the waves of this impact are rippling through the world.
As an effect of international sanctions and war itself, the supply of multiple commodities has stalled, energy prices have escalated, and global inflation has been predicted to further increase.

Medium and large businesses present a more skeptical point of view over the economic sanctions, and believe that the UK Government, the EU and NATO are doing too much already.

In light of this, Savanta’s March 2022 business tracker asked 1000+ UK businesses how they viewed the measures that have been taken by the UK Government to address the invasion of Ukraine – and what measures they had taken themselves. The overall stance of the businesses supports the actions taken to support Ukraine, albeit not all are contributing tangible support themselves.

Despite believing that the economic sanctions placed on Russia by the UK Government will negatively impact their business, the vast majority of businesses (76%) support the notion that the UK Government is right in placing them, with only 8% disagreeing. 77% agree that UK businesses should cease operating and trading in Russia whilst the war in Ukraine continues.

More than half of medium & large businesses believe that they are doing more to cease trading and operating in Russia than their European and US counterparts (53%). Meanwhile, only 30% of small businesses agree with this notion.

The recent invasion has highlighted the dependence of Europe on Russian energy, and this trend is reflected in the findings from our tracker, with 85% agreeing that the UK should become more energy independent, through investing in renewable energy in particular (81% agree).

An interesting trend emerged from the sole traders surveyed. Whilst being significantly more avid supporters of sanctions and trade limitations being placed on Russia than larger businesses, and believing that neither the UK Government, the EU and NATO are doing enough, sole traders were also the respondent group who were the least likely to have taken any actions in response to the invasion (73%).

A similar trend is followed by small businesses. In contrast, medium and large businesses present a more skeptical point of view over the economic sanctions, and believe that the UK Government, the EU and NATO are doing too much already.

Nonetheless, this group outperforms sole traders and small businesses in taking action themselves, with 77% contributing to the cause in one way or another. The top three actions across all businesses include:

  1. Stopping working with Russian companies and/or clients (15%)
  2. Pulling their investments out of Russian companies and / or clients (11%)
  3. Closing business premises in Russia (7%).

It is hard to say what the reason for this mismatch between words and actions could be – on the one hand, larger businesses could be more likely to be able to afford donating time and money to the cause, especially businesses with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. On the other hand, the findings could simply represent exactly that – a mismatch between words and actions.

For more information about our new UK Business Tracker please download our rate card and/or get in touch with one of our business experts here.

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