A decade of “austerity” – a political programme of slashing public spending on services in a bid to reduce government budget deficits – has seen significant effects on the health and wellbeing of Britons, new research has reported.
Life expectancy has stalled and mortality rates have increased, especially for the poorest in the United Kingdom, according to a report commissioned by the Institute of Health Equity.
The report, Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review Ten Years On, was launched on Tuesday and sees Sir Michael Marmot, a former president of the World Medical Association, updating his influential 2010 report, having been asked by the then-Labour government to study the question: “Is inequality making us sick?”
Marmot’s latest research analysed a wealth of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Public Health England to explore what has happened since his last landmark report. And the answer can only be summarised as: Not only is inequality making us sick but it is killing us quicker.
In the past decade – for the first time in 120 years of increasing life expectancy in England – life expectancy has stalled for those people living in the UK’s 10 percent most deprived areas, particularly in the northeast.
Among women from the most deprived areas – especially British women of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin – life expectancy fell between 2010-2012 and again between 2016-2018.
Mortality rates have meanwhile increased for people aged between 45 and 49 – the generation that grew up under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s administrations. The report details how life expectancy follows the social gradient – the more deprived the area, the shorter the life expectancy.
Marmot’s data analysis finds that, as the social gradient has become steeper, so inequalities in life expectancy have also increased.