Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Life expectancy gap widens across England

  • 1 Comment

The gap between the life expectancy of the rich and poor has widened despite efforts to close it, a government watchdog has revealed.

A National Audit Office report that focused on 70 of the most deprived areas in England found that while life expectancy went up across the board, the difference compared with more affluent parts of the country was greater - 7% for men and 14% for women.

In 1995-97, men in poorer areas were expected to live 72.7 years, compared with 74.6 years in the rest of England.

By 2006-08 the life expectancy of men in these areas rose to 75.8, but the average for men in the rest of the country went up to 77.9 years.

Women in poorer areas could expect to live to 78.3 in 1995-97, compared with 79.7 in the rest of the country. But by 2006-08, poorer women would live to 80.4 while their more affluent counterparts would, on average, live to 82.

The NAO said its calculations showed, since 1995-97, the gap between life expectancy of men in the poorest areas and the rest of England increased to 7% by 2006-08. The gap for women was 14% wider at the end of the same period.

The figures come despite a Labour target in 2000 to reduce the difference in life expectancy by 10% between the poorest and richest by 2010.

But today’s report shows although people are expected to live longer overall, the gap between deprived areas and other areas continued to grow and the target is unlikely to be met.

NAO head Amyas Morse said: “The Department of Health has made a concerted effort to tackle a very difficult and long-standing problem.

“However, it was slow to take action and health inequalities were not a top priority for the NHS until 2006.

“We recognise that this is a very complicated issue and that it took time to develop an evidence base.

“However, the best cost-effective interventions have been identified and now must be employed on a larger scale in order to have a greater impact and improve value for money.”

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • This is a sad testimony to New Labour's equivocal attitude to poverty and inequality. Half-hearted policies do not work!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.