Social Justice

Health inequalities: How does your area of England compare to others?

Think tank IPPR has challenged Boris Johnson to wipe out the health inequalities across the country to show he is serious about levelling up.

levelling up

Boris Johnson has been told to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to levelling up. Image: Andrew Parsons/Number 10

A first-of-its-kind health inequality tracker allows people in England to check health and wealth statistics in their local area.

It comes as progressive think tank The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) challenged the government to create a New Zealand-style ‘wellbeing budget’ to show its intent to level up the country.

Healthy life expectancy in England could be increased by more than three years if regional disparities are levelled up with a £35bn fund, new IPPR analysis found.

Northern cities and suburbs, midlands cities and coastal cities were identified as areas where public health was being particularly influenced by a combination of material conditions and lack of health infrastructure, according to the research. Data for every area of England can be viewed here.

A direct correlation was made between wealth, poverty, social conditions and health, with the research finding that if health outcomes matched those in areas where health is the best, the average overall life expectancy in England could also increase by two years.

The Conservative party manifesto currently aims to increase healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035. 

Further benefits of resolving the ‘disease of disparity’ would include 1.3 million fewer people living with depression, as well as a reduction of childhood obesity and overweight prevalence from 35 per cent to 32 per cent.

It was recently revealed that living in poverty increased a child’s risk of developing asthma by 70%.

The IPPR has recommended a new public health budget of £35billion targeted specifically at investment in social structures which affect heath – a figure that is based upon New Zealand’s wellbeing budget. The report suggests the figure could be delivered as soon as the 2022 spring budget.

Chris Thomas, IPPR senior research fellow said: “The government needs to learn the lessons of New Zealand’s ‘wellbeing budget’ and prioritise public spending in areas that boost the health and long-term prosperity of the nation.

“Creating good jobs, improving education, expanding skills and enhancing public health services will have a major impact on levelling up health across the country.”

IPPR has suggested that relying solely on GDP as an indicator of public health results in a failure to invest in alternative measures that could support health. Such measures include a reversal of the controversial universal credit cut, a new free food scheme for families, as well as investment in improving skill sets and appropriate wages.

Closing the health inequality between the north of England and the rest of England would also generate over £20bn a year, the report estimates. 

The pandemic has drawn attention to health disparities across the UK, sparking high profile campaigns over universal credit and school meal provisions. 

According to the report, prior to the pandemic, life expectancy in Blackpool was nine years lower than in Westminster. 

Charlotte Augst, CEO of patient group National Voices, said: “Our many members, who directly support people living with ill health, impairment and disability, know that the burden of illness falls very unequally on the different communities they serve.

“This disease of disparity has made it harder for us to manage the pandemic, and it will make it even harder to recover from it.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices
energy bills
Energy bills

Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election
Trussell Trust food banks
General election 2024

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
Department for Work and Pensions

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits

DWP under investigation over treatment of ill and disabled people after deaths of benefit claimants
Department for Work and Pensions

DWP under investigation over treatment of ill and disabled people after deaths of benefit claimants

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know