This isn’t rocket science.
Of course austerity contributed to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic found the UK’s Tory government sitting on its collective thumbs.
Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, said that the lack of financial support given to the health and social care systems during the 2010s is partly to blame for the overwhelming issues now facing the country.
I’ve got an infographic about that. Let’s see…
Sir Michael was particularly sharp about the cuts to social care:
“We’re terribly worried about the health of workers in social care. The reduction in adult social care spending over the last decade was 7 per cent in real terms. But in the most deprived 20 per cent of areas the reduction was 16 per cent. In the least deprived 20 per cent the reduction was 3 per cent.”
And of course the coronavirus has hit the most deprived areas the hardest. You see how this ties together?
“So there’s a clear line between our lack of preparedness in the healthcare system, in the social care system and in community resources more generally – the decline of support for the voluntary sector – a clear line between austerity and our lack of preparedness to cope with this pandemic.”
Sir Michael went on to say that rather than being “the great leveller”, as some have described the coronavirus pandemic, he believed it had instead exposed “underlying health inequalities” and amplified them.
He’s saying that, since they came into office in 2010, the Tories have been using well-known funding inequalities to make deprived areas less able to cope with a crisis like Covid-19.
They may not have had a pandemic in mind (although that’s debatable) but the result is the same:
His comments followed a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that found that people living in the most deprived areas of England have experienced coronavirus mortality rates more than double those living in the least deprived areas.
For those deaths involving Covid-19 that took place between March 1 and April 17, the mortality rate in the most deprived areas was 55.1 deaths per 100,000 population.
By contrast, the rate was 25.3 deaths per 100,000 in the least deprived areas.
So there’s a clear link: more than twice as many people have died in deprived areas than in affluent places – because of Tory austerity policies that hit the poorest much harder than the rich.
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