Life expectancy has declined for the poorest women

Date Posted: Tuesday 25th February 2020

Women’s Budget Group response to the Marmott Review, 10 years on.

Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On was published today. It shows that for life expectancy in England has failed to increase for the first time in more than 100 years. For the poorest 10% of women life expectancy has declined.

Over the last decade health inequalities have widened, and the amount of time people spend in poor health has increased.

The review concludes that:

…our health is not just a matter of how well the health service is funded and functions, important as that is. Because health is closely linked to the circumstances in which we are born, grow, live, work and age, large funding cuts, under the banner of austerity, have had an adverse effect.

Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group said today:

“The Marmot Review findings confirm that rumours of big spending at next month’s budget are desperately needed to restore public services and reduce health inequalities. It is essential that this includes action to reverse the cuts to spending on social security that have pushed so many into poverty and investment in public services, particularly in the poorest areas.

Our research with the Runnymede Trust has shown how cuts have hit the poorest hardest, women harder than men in every income group, and BAME and disabled women hardest of all.  In 2018 the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty concluded that across the UK the ‘costs of austerity have fallen disproportionately upon the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, children, single parents, and people with disabilities.’

‘As the Marmot Review team have shown, the fall in life expectancy for the poorest women cannot be blamed on severe winters or individual lifestyle choices. The most deprived areas have seen the largest cuts to public spending and the greatest falls in healthy life expectancy.

This Government has promised to ‘level up’ parts of the UK at the budget next month. Without investment in social infrastructure ‘levelling up’ will not effectively improve lives, especially women’s lives. This social infrastructure is as vital to the wellbeing of our society and economy as physical infrastructure such as new roads or rail projects.”

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