UK is clearly very far from OK!

By stewartb

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has just published this: ‘Healthy people, prosperous lives: The first interim report of the IPPR Commission on Health and Prosperity’.  The Commission was established to ‘test one central hypothesis: that a fairer country is a healthier one, and that a healthier country is a more prosperous one’.

The report is here:

This is the UK!

The report paints a very negative picture of life for many in this precious Union. After more that a decade of Tory governments in Westminster – rejected by a majority of Scotland’s electorate, as usual – it’s very hard to justify that for Scotland being within the UK is (even just) ‘OK’!

From the IPPR report summary (page 5 – with my emphasis): ’The UK is getting poorer and sicker. The UK faces a challenging economic outlook. While the March budget had some improved economic news, the UK economy is still projected to shrink in 2023, inflation remains high and the fall in household spending power in the next two years is predicted to be the highest in 70 years (OBR 2023). At the same time, population health is going backwards. After rapid progress on life expectancy in the 20th century, the UK has rising rates of death and impairment – including higher prevalence of long-term conditions and greater rates of multimorbidity. Moreover, from 1960 to 2020, the UK has dropped from seventh to 23rd in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on life expectancy at birth (OECD 2020).’

From page 6: ‘We show that the UK: performs worse on healthy life expectancy than similar countries; has seen a slower rate of growth in healthy life expectancy than comparable nations, and has a large proportion of preventable morbidity and mortality within its total ‘burden of disease’.

When considering solutions, regarding government from Westminster the IPPR states (page 6): ‘The biggest barrier is not a paucity of policy or innovation, it is lack of capacity across government to make or sustain positive change. While better policy ideas or new innovations are always helpful, there is no lack of evidence-based interventions that could support better health in the UK. The more pertinent challenge is the level of willingness and commitment to sustained progress among UK policymakers.’

The IPPR report includes a number of other observations about the UK worth highlighting for context:

  • (page 9): ‘In the first year of the pandemic – one in which the UK had among the highest excess mortality in the world – the UK experienced a historic drop in GDP (House of Commons 2021). We have to look back over 300 years to find an equivalent one-year drop in national output.’
  • (page 9): ‘excess mortality for the year to date in England and Wales is 12 per cent higher than the previous five-year average (ONS 2023). On the labour market, economic inactivity has risen sharply in the last three years, with economic inactivity due to long-term sickness reaching record levels (ONS 2022a).’
  • (page 9): ‘While it might be tempting to think that Covid-19 must be behind the UK’s current population health challenges, a wider view of the evidence suggests that the UK was on a trajectory towards becoming a sicker nation a long time before Covid-19 emerged.’
  • (page 9-10): ‘analysis of global burden of disease data shows that the rate of deaths from all causes (per 100,000 people) improved consistently between 1990 and 2011. Since then, progress has begun to reverse. In 2019, deaths per 100,000 people were at their highest level since 2005 (authors’ analysis of IHME 2020). Our analysis further shows that the rate of disability-adjusted years of life lost to disease (per 100,000 people) improved consistently from 1990 to 2011, but that progress since then has also reversed, with the highest level of deaths since 2008 reached in 2019 (ibid). Elsewhere, OECD data shows that, among members, the UK has gone from the sixth longest lived country (1960) to the 23rd (2020).’
  • (page 10): ‘Beneath these national trends, the burden of disease is not distributed equally across the country. Healthy life expectancy at birth varies extensively by nation/ region – with lower healthy life expectancy in the north of England and the devolved nations (table 1.1).’
  • (page 12): ‘Official indicators suggest a sharp rise in the number of working-age adults experiencing material deprivation.’

Comparative analyses

The IPPR report includes several charts and observation that compare statistics for the different nations and regions of the UK. What follows highlights these.

In Table 1.1 (reproduced below from the IPPR report) life expectancy for people in Scotland is at the lower end of the range evident across the UK: for both men and women, the NE of England has the lowest and the SE of England the highest life expectancy.

In Figure 1.3, the differences in labour productivity across the UK are marked: Scotland’s productivity is ranked third out of 12 nations/regions, behind only London and the SE.

In Table 1.2, the differences in average disposable income across the UK are also marked: Scotland is ranked fifth highest out of 12 nations/regions. SE England and especially London have far and away the highest income levels.

Figure 3.4 plots the likelihood of working-age people experiencing the onset of chronic illness or a mental health event: Scotland is ranked seventh and ninth most likely respectively, out of 12 nations/regions.

The IPPR report suggests that the UK may be at an important crossroads with respect to future health AND prosperity: ‘If population health continues to get worse, it could lead to a vicious cycle between health and prosperity: where weak health undermines our economy, and a weak economy supresses health in turn.

The IPPR research not only evidences a deteriorating UK over a prolonged period of time but it is far from confident of positive change being achieved in future. Recall its comments on a ‘lack of capacity across government to make or sustain positive change’ and the caution that the ‘more pertinent challenge is the level of willingness and commitment to sustained progress among UK policymakers’.


In short, the UK is clearly very far from OK! Who knew? Well, ‘Yes’ voters in the 2014 referendum did.

The IPPR is suggesting the UK may be at a crossroads. Scotland certainly is at a crossroads and there is an urgent need to decide on its way ahead.


5 thoughts on “UK is clearly very far from OK!

  1. This is what we can expect from more Tory or Labour representation. Who in their right mind would vote for that when we have an alternative route? It surely can’t be any worse and, even if it was, at least they’d be our mistakes to own – and fix.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. How do we get people to be more interested in this information and how then do we get them to become active in demonstrating and protesting in the towns and cities .
    France shows the way and the consequences but if you sit on your hands those with power who are eager to take from more from the huge majority poorer people and give to the already wealthy minority will take and take and take we have seen over a very long time that there is no end to the greed of people so we need a law that sets limits on wealth , one law will be life changing for millions of people improving their daily lives their income their health and their happiness.

    Step forward the persons that can lead us to this better life.


  3. But how do we change minds ?
    I show my wife this and she just shrugs her shoulders I try to discuss it with her and her reaction is very little comment , yes she agrees it’s terrible but there’s a reluctance to get angry about it the way I get angry about it , I find a similar attitude widely amongst people I meet.
    It’s as if they think it would be embarrassing to get out on the streets and march or protest .
    Do people pretend outwardly that it’s not affecting them ? are they embarrassed to show it’s affecting them ? and where are the young protesters ?
    When I was young the younger people protested regularly , have we lost that togetherness and can it be resurrected .

    Liked by 2 people

  4. BBC Disclosures prog imminent on this factual condemnation of the UK – NOT !

    The deafening silence from the collective UK media on this and similar negative aspects of life in the UK is the MAIN reason for the apparent apathy of the general population .

    Liked by 3 people

  5. No great surprise to see London and the South-East show up with as the better off in almost every measure, yet it is “Figure 1.3 : Output per hour worked by international territorial leve1 UK region or nation, relative to the UK average, 2020” where the con is perfectly demonstrated even if that was not the author’s intent:
    – 99.9% of London’s 9 million population are only partial beneficiaries of, yet peripheral to the massive difference in “Output per hour” as measured by financial returns, the vast majority could only dream of 25k per hour WHICH IS AN AVERAGE.
    Most Londoners became millionaires simply by managing somehow to continue paying off their original mortgage, sell off and with the balance but a stately pile out in the sticks or a massive farm out in the Dordogne with a nice cache of savings for the unknown- None became rich in the “gig economy”, yet they are now saddled with a mortgage or rent they can ill afford with regular postcards from the Dordogne wishing them good fortune.

    Yet here’s the crux of it – London and SE-England in reality produce next to nothing which benefits Londoners let alone the majority in the UK or mankind for that matter, they never did and never will because their game is all about accumulated wealth.

    Profits on financial dealings when HMG are your pocket simply make rich people richer, enter Rishi Rich for the final pirouette.
    As the infamous PFI scam elegantly proves, Gordon Brown kept his one eye on what favoured the already rich, and the other on socialism.
    “I see no Shits” should be on his tombstone.

    Liked by 1 person

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