Responding to today’s ONS data on life expectancies for local areas of the UK, David Finch, Assistant Director of Healthy Lives at the Health Foundation, said:
‘Today’s data lay bare the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s health with average life expectancy for both men and women receding to levels they were at in 2010. Between 2019 and 2020, male life expectancy fell by 1.2 years and female life expectancy, by 0.9 years.
‘While we would hope to see some bounce back in life expectancy as the country recovers from the pandemic, there is a risk that, without a focus on improving health, we will return to the slow progress we saw in the 2010s. Today’s data also provides further evidence of growing differences in health between local areas with gaps between the best and worst areas expanding for both men and women.
‘Speaking in Blackpool last week, the Health Secretary outlined a vision for a healthier and fairer society. But today’s data shows there’s a mountain to climb to deliver this in the wake of the pandemic. The pandemic recovery must be led by investment in people and communities – in health, housing, skills and education – along with a safety net to protect the most vulnerable. It is, therefore, concerning to see policies such as the planned cut to Universal Credit which will impact the poorest and sickest the hardest. The health secretary has acknowledged that levelling up health is fundamental to levelling up the economy but, without a realistic strategy for improving health and the investment needed, ‘levelling up’ is likely to remain little more than a slogan.’
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