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Time to redraw UK’s inequality map, warns health charity

30th Oct 2020
Time to redraw UK’s inequality map, warns health charity

(Photo credit:Pxfuel)

Hamed Chapman

Some of Britain’s poorest communities are facing a double whammy of health and financial hardship as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the response to it, the Health Foundation has warned.

Health inequalities that exist between the richest and poorest communities across the UK are set to widen unless action is taken, it said while launching a new inquiry about how the health of the nation is being affected in different ways by the pandemic.

“It is not just the virus that has affected people’s health but also measures introduced in response. People have lost jobs and income, seen medical treatment cancelled and been asked to stay indoors for weeks on end,” said Chair of the Covid-19 Impact Inquiry, Clare Moriarty.

“Children and young people have missed out on their education and opportunities to build social lives. Across the country, people’s health and mental well-being has been affected and, as this research shows, the pandemic is intensifying and amplifying existing health inequalities.”

New research by the independent charity shows that poorer areas are more likely to have experienced some of the very highest Covid-19 death rates, and they are also increasingly showing signs of intense financial hardship.

Of the 10 local areas in Britain with the highest death rates from Covid-19, it found half of them are from the poorest 30 per cent of local authorities while the share of the working-age population receiving Universal Credit increased by eight per cent in the poorest areas between March and August, compared with a five per cent increase in the wealthiest.

This means communities such as Barnsley, Wolverhampton and Newham — where people already face shorter lives lived in poorer health — are experiencing a disproportionate Covid-19 burden as well as intensive financial hardship.

This comes on top of other evidence that certain groups have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including people from Black and Minority Ethnic background that are more likely to report that the negative impact of Covid-19 on their income as well as disabled suffering death rates 11 times higher than non-disabled people according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

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