by Dawn Fuller, Leeds 17
The idea that local leaders and the government have equal responsibility for this crisis fails to acknowledge the impact that the Tories' ideologically-driven austerity policies have had on equality, widening the gap between rich and poor; social conditions and opportunity.
As Professor Marmot points out it is not just health services that affect health outcomes, indeed, the wider social determinants, like housing, employment and education, that have been under relentless attack for a decade play a much more significant role.
Early Years play a fundamental role in a child’s future health and life chances, yet successive Tory governments cut Sure Start centres, closed libraries, decimated youth services, introduced the punitive Universal Credit and created conditions in which more than four million children now live in poverty - 70 per cent of those children are in working families. Zero hours contracts, low wages and insecure employment have also widened inequality.
It is objectionable and totally unnecessary in 21st century Britain, the sixth richest nation in the world. Over the past 10 years the richest one per cent have increased their proportion of the UK’s wealth from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, while the inequality gap widens and others are left to survive with nothing. It will take at least a generation to undo the damage, at a cost to all of us, socially and economically, and yet austerity is still the order of the day, despite Tory election promises.
The Marmot Review itself concludes that the Tory ideology of austerity is responsible for life expectancy stalling for the first time in decades.
Since 2010 Leeds City Council has had its grant cut by central government by 60 per cent, a whopping £1.7bn and they are not alone. Frankly I’m surprised local authorities are able to operate at all, never mind address the huge social inequalities that are widening by the day.