New figures show the yawning gap between rich and poor in England is widening as life expectancy fell rapidly in the most deprived areas. Men born in the poorest areas of the country are now expected to live almost 10 years fewer than those living in the richest areas, and women eight years fewer.
The gap is even wider for healthy life expectancy, where rich people are expected to have an extra 20 years of good health compared to poorer people. Women in England’s poorest areas are expected to live less than two-thirds (66.3 per cent) of their lives in good general health.
The news was described as a “sickening increase in health inequality” by Chris Thomas, principal health fellow at think tank the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), who blamed the government’s failure to invest in the country’s health.
“The brutal reality is people in the most deprived parts of our country can expect to die nearly a decade earlier than those in the richest, on average,” he told The Big Issue.
“We must not pretend this is purely down to the pandemic – a temporary blip in an otherwise rosy picture. Rather, it is down to long-term government failure to prioritise, and invest in, good health as a national mission.”
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A government spokesperson said a white paper on health disparities due later this year would set out how plans to “reduce the gap in health outcomes between different areas”.