Today, the BBC is reporting on this: “Longer Lives” – you can find the report here. The aim of this post is to identify how the UK elite report on this with a particular emphasis on what they have failed to include. So let’s start with the BBC’s report first:-
The local variation in early death rates revealed in a new league table for England is “shocking” and must drive action to improve health, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
Public Health England’s Longer Lives website, which ranks local authorities, shows people in north-west England are at the greatest risk of dying early.
Mr Hunt said the data could be used to tackle smoking, drinking and obesity.
Labour called for a “One Nation approach” to end health inequalities.
In fact, Jeremy Hunt – the UK’s Health Minister – is reported as going further:
Mr Hunt said: “This shocking variation in early and unnecessary deaths means people’s lives are needlessly cut short, and that cannot continue unchecked.
“I want areas to use the data released today to identify local public health challenges like smoking, drinking and obesity and to take action to help achieve our ambition for saving 30,000 lives a year by 2020.”
Local authorities are being given £5.4bn over two years for public health.
Now isn’t that nice of Mr. Hunt? Or is it? A very quick look at the statistics tells a very different tale. Fortunately “Longer Lives” gives us the figures and you don’t have to be a mathematician to work out exactly how far Mr. Hunt’s ambition extends.
So, according to the statistics (and do check my numbers – I do make mistakes), 456,342 people died under the age of 75 between 2009-2011 (3 years) which becomes 152,117 deaths per year. Therefore to reduce this figure by 30,000 a year by 2020 begins to look rather a poor ambition to have, especially when the same Mr. Hunt happens to be privatising the NHS. Those figures take on a very different flavour when we look at how long we are going to have to wait before we save just these 30k people from an early death.
If we use present statistics, between now and 2020 (152,117 x 7 years), to ‘save’ our 30k over ONE MILLION PEOPLE (1,064,521.1) will have died. That’s a rather alarming fatality rate to attain Mr. Hunt’s ambitions. What we also need to bear in mind is that another report, “Walking The Breadline” and published by Church Action Against Poverty and Oxfam, provides some very telling statistics of its own which point to the likelihood that present early-mortality rates are set to rise very rapidly – here’s their explanation of why:
“We estimate that over 500,00 people are now reliant on food aid – the use of foodbanks and receipt of food parcels – and this number is likely to escalate further over the coming months. This is substantially higher than the headline figure of 350,000 supplied by the Trussell Trust, as at least half as many people again are provided with food parcels or other forms of food aid by non-Trussell Trust food banks and other emergency food aid projects.”
“Some of the increase in the number of people using food banks is caused by unemployment, increasing levels of underemployment, low and falling income, and rising food and fuel prices.”
“More alarmingly, up to half of all people turning to food banks are doing so as a direct result of having benefit payments delayed, reduced, or withdrawn altogether. Figures gathered by the Trussell Trust show that changes to the benefit system are the most common reasons for people using food banks.”
“There is clear evidence that the benefit sanctions regime has gone too far, and is leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale.”
“The growth in food aid demonstrates that the social safety net is failing in its basic duty to ensure that families have access to sufficient income to feed themselves adequately. The exponential rise in the creation of food banks reflects a growing problem and only delivers mitigation. Food banks provide a vital emergency service to the people they support but they do not address the underlying structural causes for the growth of food poverty”
And widening the issue to other sections of our society, CAAP and Oxfam go on to say: “It is unacceptable that whilst thousands are being forced to turn to food banks and millions are unable to meet the rising cost of living as a result of the Government’s austerity programme, wealthy individuals and corporations continue to dodge their obligation to pay their fair share of taxes.”
In other words, we have a problem with poverty in our country. It is interesting to note that the BBC reporting of this fails to mention or highlight that there is a connection between poverty and early mortality. Funny that, because its in the report itself.
I wonder why the BBC would leave something as significant as the above out of it’s reporting? I don’t suppose it might have something to do with this?
When activists say that the BBC has become the propaganda wing of the Tories they make a fair point. In abolishing the NHS, under the shelter of BBC non or slant reporting, what contribution is this likely to make to our early mortality rates in England? For clarification: I am using the word “Tory” advisedly. When I say Tory, I mean those who are or intend to profit from this. I do not include those who are politically Conservative because I believe they will be as appalled as I am. To fully understand what is happening, I recommend you read what the CAAP and Oxfam have to say. I add my own voice to their report and others have added their voice to mine. How many people have to say this and die before those with social and public responsibility begin to act on it?
As far as I can see, a large part of the British Parliament has forgotten the true meaning of public service, even though they attained their parliamentary posts for the express purpose of serving the public. One of these responsibilities is a duty of care to ALL citizens. I don’t need to explain this responsibility to those who already understand it – those who need to have it explained to them are more comfortable in the private sector because their inability to understand renders them unfit for public office.
So, in a climate where poverty is one of the major contributory factors of early mortality, how does Jeremy Hunt and the BBC discharge their Duty to the Public? They blame the usual suspects – obesity, smoking and alcohol. Since we can already demonstrate an absence of salient facts by the BBC, let’s look at what the CAAP and Oxfam have to say about them…
People on low incomes in the UK pay higher prices for many essential goods and services than people who are better off. This is known as the PovertyPremium. Save the Children has estimated that it costs the average low-income household an extra £1,300 a year, as they pay more for food, fuel,finance and other goods and services.13The Poverty Premium is related to food poverty in a number ofways. The creation of large superstores and out-of-town shopping developments have driven local, independent retailers out of business and left the poorest people in ‘food deserts’ without access to affordable, healthy food. Superstores are difficult to reach for people on low-incomes; 85% of households with weekly incomes under £150 do not have a car. The poorest people in the UK are paying more for their food than their richer counterparts. Research has found that a list of the cheapest available selection of groceries was up to 69% more expensive in some of the poorest parts of the country than in stores belonging to the same chain in richer areas14At least four million people in the UK do not have access to a healthy diet; nearly 13 million people live below the poverty line, and it is becomingharder and harder for them to afford healthy food. Lower-income families in the UK have cut their consumption of fruit and vegetables by nearly athird in the wake of the recession and rising food prices. At the end of 2010, lower-income households were buying 2.7 portions of fruit and vegetables per person, per day, compared to the average household which continued to buy about four portions per person, per day. These rates are likely to have declined further in the past year, as inflation has continued upwards and household incomes have shrunk.“In the most deprived part of the borough [Westminster], life expectancy for men is 17 years shorter than in the richest part of theborough. If I went to Glasgow it’s even worse – a 28 year difference in male life expectancy. Life expectancy in the poorest part of Glasgowis 8 years shorter than the average male life expectancy in India. That’s how bad health inequality is in the UK.”Sir Michael Marmot (Director of the International Institute for Society and Health)Poor families are not only hit with the problem of how to put food on the table in the short term, they are also suffering the double injustice of thelong-term effects of food poverty. People who are forced to live on an inadequate diet have a significantly increased risk of developing serious health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes; they are also more likely to suffer from stress, ill health, poor educational attainment and shortened life expectancy. Poor children sufferfrom lower nutritional intake, bad dietary patterns, hunger, low fruit and vegetable consumption, and problems accessing food in the school holidays.
The report goes on to comment about how the government, which claims there is no money for poor people, has been dealing with what welfare system remains to us.
In recent years there has been growing concern about the hardship caused by an increasingly harsh and punitive benefits sanctions regime.In 2010, in response to the Department for Work and Pensions’ consultation21st Century Welfare (Cm 7913), a number of consultees raised concerns thatif conditionality is increased, protections must be put in place to ensure that vulnerable people are not penalised.24At the time, Oxfam’s UK Poverty Programme warned that the new sanctions regime being introduced alongside Universal Credit would “expose people to the risk of destitution. Removing benefits and leaving people with no income will result in extreme hardship for them and their families.”25In April 2011, The Guardian published an analysis of DWP statistics which showed a 40% increase in the number of people who have lost their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) between April and October 2010.26In October 2012 a new JSA sanctions regime came into force, which introduced a new and ‘more robust’ system, with low-, intermediate- and high- level sanctions. A broadly similar sanctions regime will be introduced under Universal Credit (the revision to the entire benefits system which the DWP started to roll out this month). Just three months later, in January 2013, an internal DWP ‘scorecard’ leaked to The Guardian revealed that more than 85,000 sanctions had been applied or upheld against JSA claimants in one month alone. This would translate into more than a million sanctions per annum, against a total JSA caseload of just under 1.5 million.27Most of the policy debate on sanctions to date has focused on the extent to which the sanctions regime is fulfilling its primary purpose in promoting ‘good behaviour’ on the part of benefit claimants. More recently, there has been a growing controversy as to whether Jobcentres have ‘quotas’ for getting people off benefits. As a result of this debate, the Government has now agreed to set up an independent inquiry into the use of sanctions,which is a welcome move.28However, to date there has been little or no Parliamentary debate, or Government or Parliamentary research, on the wider impacts of sanctions in terms of generating material hardship, stress or hunger
As for smoking, when the anti-smoking lobby finds it necessary to lie to get its message across, I start to wonder whether that is propaganda too. With alcohol, Tory policy has never been in the public interest. Perhaps if the poor weren’t treated so badly, they wouldn’t need to smoke or drink as much as they do because these are activities designed to ease pain; drug addiction has a similar cause. I wonder why a part of our public is in such pain in the first place. At the same time, the Tories have put precariats outside the protection 0f the law.
As a retired shop steward, I can tell you now that public servants caught lying, stealing or involved with corrupt practices get the sack and are prosecuted – or they were back in the day and this is why.
A Public Servant, whether elected, appointed or employed as, has a duty to serve ALL members of the public because not all members of the public are able to speak for themselves and that duty is a “Duty of Care”. Society is a huge web of human complexity and people have experimented with a variety of different organisational models in order to manage that. The last time one of our neighbour society’s experimented with the particular model of ‘social management’ detailed above, the global community deemed it to be criminal. Arising out of those global lessons came a Woman’s Law – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and its a Woman’s Law because Eleanor Roosevelt gave birth to it. At the same time, the working class men of Britain created the Welfare State – which is where the people learned about Public Duty and personal ethics. The Welfare State is also Woman’s Law because every improvement we saw, after it’s inception, took care of British Women and Children. Margaret Thatcher began the process of stealing it from us. Let’s have a look at how far the Tories have gone with what she and Ronald Reagan began. This is the US but the UK won’t be far behind
I began this post, I realised how little I knew about tax avoidance, so I asked my twitter pals for plain-english (which most Precariats understand) suggestions. My friend, Steve Walker, has shared this this this and this (thanks Steve) and everyone recommends the Tax Justice Network. What there isn’t is a Precariat guide to exactly what the Tories have been up to. Nevertheless, the fact remains that they are getting richer whilst, at one and the same time, they are intentionally depriving more than a million people of the means to a natural life-span. In fact, the public are already being told, by the BBC and Tories in all our political parties, that over one million in poverty will lose their lives early by 2020 due to the debunked and deadly gods of Austerity. If that isn’t a declaration of intent to commit wholesale murder of the poorest people in Britain – but more especially, England – then I really don’t know what is.
Public Duty has never been about the money. Public Duty carries a sacred responsibility that is understood by atheists because it is intrinsic to a healthy human being. The bottom line is we don’t treat people this way – not if we’re truly British because Gandhi told us so (apocryphal) . Perhaps Gandhi was wrong about a lot of British men but he was right on the money when it comes to British women.
To the British men – young and old – who’ve been strutting their left-wing credentials and proposing people’s assemblies that look remarkably like the old ones, I say this:
“Your methodology failed with Thatcher and it will fail again because I’ve yet to see it sustain a win. You fail because you don’t speak Precariat – you speak Working Class. As the rich got richer, the poor have gotten poorer. We can’t be working class because there are no jobs ON PURPOSE! The working class ‘leaders’ are now suspect and so are you if you are not at the sharp end of this.”
Then I’d ask this question. Given that I had a heart attack last November, what do you think of the DWP decision to call me to TWO Work Capability Assessments in the 10 months immediately following? What do you think it might do to the likelihood of my being one of the statistics of early mortality? Does this violate my Right To Life and could it be considered psychological torture? If it is, do I get to stand on the same platform as you? Have I earned the right to be heard? Is your life on the line? Because, if it isn’t you won’t know what you’re talking about and anything you say about us can only ever be secondhand. If you haven’t lived it, you don’t qualify.
Then go have a look at the Human Rights Act and ask yourself what you intend to do about it. You are not doing this for the glory, you are doing this because women and children, alongside all our other vulnerable peoples, being forced into hunger, homelessness and early death by downright evil people and that cannot be anything but wrong.
And once you know what it is you need to do – GO DO IT!
One final point: I don’t believe all money-rich people are Tories but there are an awful lot of sheeple who are mesmerised by the lies and propaganda. If you aren’t one of them and you are money-rich, then now is the time to start giving it away to women. Keep what you need and give the rest away without strings. The women will take care of the rest – honest men included – and woe betide any woman caught misappropriating or misusing this without reasonable excuse. Self-serving misuse is no longer regarded as reasonable. Money is a tool, not an ambition. I say this now because tomorrow I might be dead and I’d regret not saying it when I could.