Decade Of Austerity Shortens Life For UK’s Poorest


Life expectancy in Britain over the past decade has dropped back for the first time in a century.

A detailed survey highlights some ‘shocking’ health inequalities across the nation.

The sad truth is that the poorer you are and how deprived the area where you live is, the more likely you are to spend more of your life in ill health than those living in better off neighbourhoods.

And life expectancy fell the most for women living in the poorest 10% areas of the country.

The report from the Institute of Health Equity argues the fall in longevity is partly to do with cold winters, flu outbreaks and problems within the National Health Service, but blames over severe austerity measures following the global financial crisis for cutting vital health and care funding.

Research team leader Professor Sir Michael Marmot says falling longevity is more pronounced in England than most other high income countries except America.

Society has stopped improving

“England has lost a decade,” he said.

“If health has stopped improving, that means society has stopped improving.”

He is urging the government to tackle health inequality urgently by bringing the north up to a level enjoyed in London and the South.

Health Minister Matt Hancock said in a statement: “There is still much more to do, and our bold prevention agenda, record £33.9 billion a year investment in the NHS, and world-leading plans to improve children’s health will help ensure every person can lead a long and healthy life.”

The latest figures cited in the report show men can expect to live 79.6 years, with 16.2 years in poor health.

Women should expect to live on average until they are 83.2 years old, with 19.4 years spent suffering ill health.

Life expectancy in sickness and health


MenHealthy life expectancyYears in poor healthLife in poor health (%)Disability free life expectancyYears with disabilityLife with disability (%)
Source: Office for National Statistics


WomenHealthy life expectancyYears in poor healthLife in poor health (%)Disability free life expectancyYears with disabilityLife with disability (%)
Source: Office for National Statistics

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