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%.
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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.
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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.”