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Statistics published today by the ONS reveal the huge gap in healthy life expectancy between local authorities in rich and poor areas. This includes that:
- There is a gap in healthy life expectancy for men (HLE) of almost two decades (17.5 yrs) between the top local authority, affluent Richmond, and the bottom Tower Hamlets.
- Over half of all upper tier local authorities (77 out of 150) have a healthy life expectancy for men below state pension age.
- There is a gap in healthy life expectancy for women of over 15 years (15.5yrs) between Wokingham (71 years) and Manchester (55.5 years)
- 68 upper tier local authorities have a healthy life expectancy for women below state pension age
Duncan Exley, Director of The Equality Trust, said:"It should be a huge concern that the health gap between the country's richest and poorest is so large. There is effectively a health apartheid in this country, where your chance of a healthy and long life is worryingly linked to your financial status. "This is particularly concerning given how many people in poorer areas have a healthy life expectancy below retirement age. How can we determine a fair pension age when there is such a huge difference in the number of healthy years people can expect in retirement?""We will almost certainly hear the usual criticisms of the diets and 'life choices' of the poor, and the need for better education. But the reality is that there is a huge and consistent social gradient in health - do we really believe that this is explained by people's diets improving all the way up the income scale? The most effective way to reduce the health gap between rich and poor is to reduce the dramatic gap in wealth and income between them."