ONS figures prove that deprivation kills, it doesn’t have to be like this
For anyone that argues that deprivation doesn’t exist within the UK in 2017 new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) should come as a wake up call.
Of course deprivation exists, you’ve only got to walk around some of our inner city areas or forgotten estates on the outskirts of towns throughout the country to realise this. To see the numbers of food banks sprouting up to help those in abject food poverty and to look at the rise of modern slavery, the zero hours, gig economy jobs that exploit workers desperate for any kind of income.
But in the ONS figures released this week the human cost is there in black and white, the increased levels of illness and the reduced life expectancy.
If you are lucky enough to live in the leafy Hampshire town of Hart, voted the most desirable place to live in the UK five years running, then you can expect to live a full seven to eight years longer than someone living in the most deprived area of the country, Blackpool.
The leading cause of death for men was heart disease, claiming 32,000 lives, with poor diet and lack of exercise being major contributing factors and it’s plain to see how it’s difficult to ensure a healthy lifestyle when you’re reliant upon food banks, discount food and working every available hour on a zero hours contract just to keep a roof over your family’s heads.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the biggest killer of women with more than 41,000 women (twice the number of men) dying from these diseases in 2016 alone, with the highest numbers again being within the deprived communities least able to support those affected by the terrible symptoms of these conditions.
The third-biggest killer for men was lung cancer, with approximately 16,500 deaths in England and Wales. If you live in one of the most deprived areas, you are twice as likely to die from lung cancer compared with those in least deprived areas.
Exposure to exhaust fumes and hazardous substances like asbestos greatly increase the risk of developing a respiratory disease and pollution tends to affect deprived communities far more than affluent neighbourhoods. This is again born out by the increased mortality figures for chronic lower respiratory diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis in deprived areas.
Additionally breast and prostate cancers are more prevalent in areas of deprivation.
Deprivation kills the most vulnerable members of our society, deprivation is a result of political choices.
The ONS defines deprivation as ‘an overall measure based on factors such as income, employment, health and education within an area,’ these can all be rectified if the political will is there to address them. Isn’t it time that the great inequality of wealth was addressed in our society?