The Socialist 3 October 2018 |
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Shocking new data on declining life expectancy: paying the price of austerity
Trade unionists on a benefit cuts 'die in'. Cuts to services, wages, housing, and so on, are killing people early, photo Elaine Evans (Click to enlarge)
Lynda McEwan, Socialist Party Scotland
Life expectancy has stalled in England. However, for the first time in 35 years, babies born in Scotland and Wales will live shorter lives.
New data released by the National Records of Scotland and the Office for National Statistics this month show the savage effects of austerity - especially cuts to health and social care - on life expectancy for people living in Britain.
In Scotland, males born in 2015-2017 can expect to live until 77.02 years compared to 77.07 years in 2014-16. For females, it fell from 81.15 to 81.09 years.
The figures are the worst in the UK. The last time a fall occurred was 1983, when Thatcher was in power.
It's no coincidence that the Tories have governed over this fall in life expectancy, but the Scottish National Party (SNP) must share part of the blame for passing on Tory budget cuts.
Ten years after the capitalist global financial crash and the bailing out of the banks and the super-rich with public money, austerity inflicted on the majority has meant that the brutal attacks on the welfare system, the worst in history, are impacting the health of some of the most vulnerable members of society.
The bedroom tax, severe benefit sanctions and flawed fit for work assessments, the discriminatory 'two-child' benefits policy, and the disastrous introduction of universal credit, among other welfare cutbacks, have combined to produce a population struggling to cope and paying the price.
In West Dunbartonshire, where women die five years younger than their counterparts in more affluent East Dunbartonshire, the SNP-led administration is destroying the area with the removal of the local hospital's breast screening service, the social work department, the One Stop Shop (a frontline service used mostly by the elderly) and the proposed closure of some of the much used community centres.
In a country as wealthy as the UK, and with all the recent advances in technology and medicine, these statistics prove what a disaster austerity has been.
Cuts to services, wages, housing, and so on, are literally killing us off early. Only a socialist transformation of society can secure the social and economic conditions necessary for all working class people to enjoy longer and healthier life spans.