Devon children face worse and more unequal life expectancy

A blistering ten years after the Coalition government accepted his last report, new findings from Health expert Sir Michael Marmot show that overall life expectancy in the UK has slowed down to an extent not seen for over a century. The 2020 Marmot Review argues that damage to health in the last ten years has been ‘unprecedented’ and points to rises in child poverty, the closure of hundreds of Sure Start centres, unequal council cuts and a growing wage gap, all of which are believed to help determine people’s health. 

Whilst cuts have hit the North hardest, Devon has also been hit with the closure of all but two Sure Start centres and suffers from areas of low income.

Devon County Council has recently reported that child poverty rates in the most deprived areas of Devon, such as Torridge, are four times those in the least deprived. Child poverty rates are also higher in younger families, due to higher benefit claimant rates and lower incomes in persons in their 20s and 30s. Single parent households, particularly where headed by a female, are also likely to experience economic poverty; as are children of disable parents. Marmot and Devon County Council alike acknowledge that people with lower income tend to have poorer health, and that child poverty is intergenerational and bi-directional; where parents’ income can influence their child’s health, and a child’s health can influence their learning and earning capacity later in life.

Yvonne Atkinson, Labour’s Shadow Portfolio Holder for Economic Development at Devon County Council comments, “We ask Devon County Council to urgently review its strategy in the light of Marmot’s further report, and to urge Devon’s Tory MPs, and the government, to increase our local government funding back to 2010 levels. This government must urgently support economic development in Devon’s most deprived areas, otherwise our county’s children will not only be facing worse rates of life expectancy across the board, but also rates that are increasingly unequal through no fault of their own.”