Oldham MP hits out at health inequalities

Date published: 21 November 2018

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams has used the comparison of health differences between Oldham and Windsor and Maidenhead - which includes the Prime Minister’s constituency - to demand the Government make amendments to the Finance Bill as it passes through Parliament.

Mrs Abrahams, who is also chair of the all-party parliamentary group for health in all policies, tabled an amendment to the Finance Bill.

She demanded that the Government should carry out an impact assessment of the effects of the personal taxation measures in the Budget on poverty, and how this effects the public’s health including their life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, and the subsequent impacts on public services such as the NHS.

In her speech Mrs Abrahams, whose amendments have attracted cross party support from MPs in the Labour Party, SNP, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, said: “Over the past eight years or so, I have seen the gains made under the previous Labour government being totally reversed by this Tory government.

"Those gains included the reduction in the number of children and older people living in poverty and the improvements in health including an increase in our life expectancy and reductions in health inequalities. 

"Now poverty is up, and life expectancy is flatlining after decade of improvements.  

“As the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said on Friday, the cuts and reforms introduced in the past few years have brought misery and torn at our social fabric.

"He said: ‘British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited and callous approach’."

Mrs Abrahams, who is also a fellow of the Faculty of Public Health with more than 20 years of national and international work in this field prior to becoming an MP, added: “My new clause 18 would require the Government to commit to undertaking an assessment of the effects of the personal taxation measures in the Budget, including changes in the personal allowance and the higher rate threshold, on poverty, on the public’s health, including their life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, and in turn on public services."

Mrs Abrahams compared the effect of health inequalities between Windsor and Maidenhead and her own constituency, Oldham East and Saddleworth, to highlight her point, saying: “Not only is life expectancy stalling across the country but there are regional differences in how long people will live, with these health inequalities reflecting the socioeconomic inequalities across the country. 

“Life expectancy for men in Windsor and Maidenhead is at 81.6 years, while in my Oldham and Saddleworth constituency it is 77.

"Even within these areas, there are differences in how long people will live. 

“Again, in the Windsor and Maidenhead local authority area, the life expectancy gap is 5.8 years for men and 4.8 years for women, while in my constituency it is 11.4 years for men and 10.7 years for women.

"These health inequalities are reflected right across the country.

"The gains Labour made in reducing health inequalities are now being reversed."

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