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Ill health in ‘left behind’ areas costs England £30bn a year, says report

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Endemic ill-health in England’s “left behind” neighbourhoods costs the country almost £30bn a year because people are often too ill to work and die earlier, a report claims.

The cost of lost productivity results directly from those very deprived areas having much worse health than the rest of the country, according to parliamentarians and academics.

Experts from the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) have calculated that the economy would grow by that amount if health in those areas was improved to such an extent that local people began to enjoy the same health as those in better-off places.

The report, by the NHSA and all-party parliamentary group for left behind neighbourhoods (LBNs), highlights the scale of the challenge Boris Johnson faces in meeting his pledge to level up England’s poorest and richest areas.

“The health of people living in left behind neighbourhoods is considerably worse than the health of people living in the rest of the country,” said Dr Luke Munford, the report’s lead author and a lecturer in health economics at the University of Manchester. “This is true across all measures of health.”

The report shows rates of obesity, lung conditions, high blood pressure, mental health problems and other diseases are much higher than the national average in the 225 LBNs. This means people there have less “healthy life expectancy” and also shorter lives and thus are less productive over their lifespan than those elsewhere.

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Source: The Guardian, 13 January 2022

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