William Eichler 27 March 2020

Charity warns of ‘unacceptable decline in life expectancy’ in poor areas

Charity warns of ‘unacceptable decline in life expectancy’ in poor areas image

A health charity has warned that even before the current pandemic the UK was experiencing a decline in life expectancy in the poorer parts of the country.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on life expectancy has revealed that between 2016 and 2018 the gap in life expectancy at birth between the least and most deprived areas in England was 9.5 years for males and 7.5 years for females.

This is an increase in inequality for both sexes since 2013 to 2015.

Males living in the most deprived areas of England can expect to live 18.9 years less in ‘Good’ health compared with those in the least deprived. The gap is at 19.4 years for females.

The ONS also found that females living in the most deprived areas of England saw a fall in life expectancy at birth in 2016 to 2018 compared with 2013 to 2015. In contrast females in the least deprived areas saw an increase in life expectancy.

Males living in the most deprived areas of England saw no change in life expectancy at birth in 2016 to 2018 compared with 2013 to 2015, whereas those in the least deprived areas saw an increase.

According to the ONS’ findings, males aged 65 years living in the most deprived areas of England can expect to live five years less than those in the least deprived areas, with the difference being 4.6 years for females aged 65 years.

Females aged 65 years living in the most deprived areas of England saw life expectancy decrease in 2016 to 2018 compared with 2013 to 2015. Those in the least deprived areas saw life expectancy increasing.

Males aged 65 years living in the most deprived areas of England saw no change in life expectancy in 2016 to 2018 compared with 2013 to 2015; whereas those in the least deprived areas saw an increase in life expectancy.

Responding to these figures, David Finch, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation, said: ‘Today’s ONS release shows that before the current crisis we were seeing an unacceptable decline in life expectancy for some of us in England.’

He continued: ‘The circumstances in which we live – from the support we receive during our early years to our working conditions, housing, and local communities later in life have powerful impacts on our health.

‘These new figures highlight long term challenges that the country is facing. Understanding how the response to coronavirus is affecting different groups will be key to understanding the impact the pandemic has had on health inequalities and the longer term action we need to take.’

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