Hywel Williams MP

UK austerity to blame for Welsh life expectancy fall – Oxford Prof

Life expectancy in Wales is going backwards quicker than anywhere else in Europe, according to new data from the Office of National Statistics.
Official statistics from the ONS show that life expectancy fell by 5.72 weeks for men in Wales between 2014-2016 and 2015-2017, and by 4.16 weeks for women. The comparative figures for the other UK countries were:
  • Scotland
    • Men: -2.6 weeks
    • Women: -3.12 weeks
  • Northern Ireland
    • Men: -4.16 weeks
    • Women: +0.52 weeks
  • England
    • Men: +1.56 weeks
    • Women: +0.52 weeks
  • Wales
    • Men: -5.72 weeks
    • Women: -4.16 weeks
Oxford University Professor Danny Dorling told the BBC’s World at One programme that Westminster policy was to blame, highlighting cuts to public sector services and a drop in immigration.
Speaking to the World at One, Professor Dorling said:

“We know that we have had no harsh winters since 2010 so it’s not cold winters; we know it’s not an influenza epidemic because we haven’t had one of those. We’re beginning to narrow it down to two things: The big thing is austerity and the cuts affecting the frail and the elderly in many, many ways, and the second thing is that we’re no longer getting the young, healthy migrants that we were getting in the past which were actually helping boost our statistics.”

Plaid Cymru MP, Hywel Williams has called the figures “scandalous”, saying they reflect how Westminster austerity has disproportionately affected Wales.
Mr Williams said:
“These scandalous figures show the real impact of Westminster’s policies on people’s lives. This is not just people earning less, or paying more for their mortgages and groceries, it is people dying earlier than they should be.  
“For Wales – a country that is bound to one of the richest states in the world – to see life expectancy not only falling when it is rising elsewhere, but for it to be falling faster than anywhere else in Europe should send shivers down the spines of those who have forced through these savage cuts to public services. 
“It is the first time since the Second World War that the infant mortality rate has risen two years in a row across the UK and we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of elderly and frail people dying two or three years earlier than normal.  
“And what have we got to show for it? Austerity continues to be driven by those who claim it is necessary to eliminate the budget deficit but the reality is that austerity has depressed economic growth, leading to less money coming in, pushing the apparent goal of a balanced budget further and further away. So we should look at who has gained, and look no further than the pampered lives of the fat cats who win on the way up – and win on the way down too. 
“It is a self-defeating prophecy and Wales cannot afford to be subjected to more of it. Those responsible in Westminster should hang their heads in shame and recognise the damage they continue to cause.”
Full transcript of Professor Dorling’s comments on the World at One:

“The immediate reasons are that more people have died – more babies have died. Last year more babies died than the year before, and the year before more died than the year before that, so the infant mortality rate has risen two years in a row in the UK. Nowhere else in Europe has that happened and the last time that happened in the UK was during the Second World War. 

“But the main increase in deaths has been elderly frail people dying two or three years earlier than normal. We know that we have had no harsh winters since 2010 so it’s not cold winters; we know it’s not an influenza epidemic because we haven’t had one of those. We’re beginning to narrow it down to two things: The big thing is austerity and the cuts affecting the frail and the elderly in many, many ways, and the second thing is that we’re no longer getting the young, healthy migrants that we were getting in the past which were actually helping boost our statistics.”