I’m concerned, but not surprised to see a new report from the Office for National Statistics confirming the sudden stop in declining life expectancy since 2011. It’s clear to me and other campaigners, as I wrote back in April, that the suddenness of the change doesn’t look natural and happened just as the Government’s austerity measures began to bite.
The ONS identifies that “Females in England saw their rate of improvement decline by 95% during 2011 and 2017, a sharp contrast to the previous two decades”; we know that the effects of austerity have hit women hardest, and healthy life expectancy among women in some parts of the country is shockingly low – just 57.5 years in Sheffield in 2014-16.
Of course life expectancy cannot increase forever, but there are still things we can and should be doing to help make people’s lives longer and healthier. Whether it’s longer GP and hospital waiting times, the widespread poverty caused by the Government’s benefits changes, or the rise in violent crime due to our overstretched police forces, the abrupt stop in the progress we’d been making over the last century is a stain on the Government’s record.