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Austerity kills: this week’s figures show its devastating toll

10 August 2018 Owen Jones - The Guardian

That life expectancy in Britain has slowed to a standstill is down to one thing only: the Tories’ ideologically driven policies.

“We got there in the end – a remarkable national effort”: that’s how former chancellor George Osborne celebrated the government meeting his deficit target on the day-to-day budget two years late. “It was the right thing to do,” was David Cameron’s smug echo.

It’s easy for the architects of the Tories’ ideologically driven austerity to be triumphalist, given they did not suffer the consequences: the worst squeeze in wages of the major industrialised countries except depression-ravaged Greece; the slashing of social security for low-paid workers and disabled people; the surging child poverty. New research suggests that austerity played a key role in the Brexit vote, which plunged Britain into national crisis, too, and which turfed both men out of office, although both continue to prosper, Cameron with his “trotters up”, as Danny Dyer so memorably put it. But there is another devastating consequence of their austerity that is too little discussed: that it kills.

According to newly published figures from the Office for National Statistics, Britain’s improvement in life expectancy has slowed at the fastest rate of any leading industrialised nation other than the free-market citadel of the United States. Since 2011, the rate of improvement for men has collapsed by over three-quarters; for women, an astonishing 91%. For decades, life expectancy steadily rose in Britain: and then, suddenly, just as the Tories took power and imposed austerity, this improvement ground to a halt.

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