Home Economy UK becomes ‘poorer and sicker’ as illnesses keep people out of work

UK becomes ‘poorer and sicker’ as illnesses keep people out of work

by SuperiorInvest

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Rising levels of illness and health-related economic inactivity are worsening inequality in the UK and represent a “profound fiscal threat”, according to new research.

Work by the cross-party IPPR Commission on Health and Prosperity found that one in four working-age Britons who neither have nor want a job live in just 50 local authorities.

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The findings published on January 18 highlight a “double injustice” as people living in the most deprived areas “are one and a half times more likely to experience economic inactivity and twice as likely to be in poor health,” IPPR said. .

The disease is linked to low productivity, high poverty and persistent unemployment. The wealth divide has left “black spots of ill health” across the UK, where people are most likely to be out of work.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show inactivity among people aged 16 to 64 rose to almost 8.7 million by the end of 2023, or more than one in five. Hundreds of thousands of people have left their jobs since the pandemic, driven by a rise in long-term illnesses.

The government forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility, has warned that the number of people going into inactivity and receiving benefits is becoming unaffordable.

Growing economic slack is depriving the country of growth potential and adding tens of billions of pounds to the welfare bill, the OBR has said. IPPR reiterated the warning, saying health-related inactivity “is one of the most profound fiscal threats facing the UK” and is detrimental to the country economically.

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Poor health leaves the worst affected areas trapped in a cycle of deprivation, as high inactivity leads to low productivity, higher unemployment, more child poverty and lower family income.

“Inactivity is closely correlated with the level of poor health in each location. “A one percent increase in the number of people reporting poor or very poor health is associated with a 2.1 percent increase in the proportion of working-age people who are economically inactive,” the report says.

Liverpudlians are almost three times more likely to be in poor health than those in Oxfordshire and twice as likely to be economically inactive.

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IPPR said the government should address the problem at a regional level with new health zones that have broad powers “to invest, raise local taxes and establish missions.”

“The UK is getting poorer and sicker. This trend is not the same throughout the country. The poorest and sickest areas are the ones that are getting poorer and sicker the fastest,” she stated.

—With assistance from Irina Anghel.

Bloomberg.com

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