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25 Feb, 2020 12:23

‘Shocking’: Life expectancy in England flatlines for first time in 100 years & Tory govt’s austerity is major factor – report

‘Shocking’: Life expectancy in England flatlines for first time in 100 years & Tory govt’s austerity is major factor – report

Life expectancy in England has stalled for the first time in a century, with the Conservative government’s cuts, part of their austerity agenda over the last 10 years, playing a major role, a landmark review reveals.

The review, headed by Professor Michael Marmot, director of University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, says the UK government has failed to improve the life chances of its citizens. Marmot himself warned a decade ago that ever-increasing inequalities would badly impact health.

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The damning review concluded that austerity is “highly likely responsible for the life expectancy flat-lining” across England and for the widening of health inequalities. It puts the blame squarely at the feet of the Tories who embarked on wide-scale cuts to public services when they entered into a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

This damage to the nation’s health need not have happened. It is shocking.

Ostensibly, the report notes, austerity has taken its toll on the nation. Rising child poverty, the closure of children’s centers, increased work insecurity and zero-hour contracts, along with a housing crisis contributing to the rise in homelessness, have all created the conditions for people’s life chances to stall.

Marmot says that “poverty has a grip on our nation’s health,” adding that the government’s focus on individual behaviors is not effective. The review also revealed that England has seen a reverse in life expectancy for the poorest 10 percent of women in the north-east, as well as in the Yorkshire and the Humber regions.

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After his landslide election victory in December, PM Boris Johnson promised to “level up” areas of the country, particularly in the north-east and north-west of England. However, the review warns that to achieve this would mean taking immediate action to halt the deterioration in people’s health.

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