Socialist Worker

Shock new report says Osborne’s cuts will kill

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2208

The cuts planned by the Tories will cause up to 38,000 extra deaths in Britain over the next ten years due to their impact on poor people’s health and stress levels.

A report released last week by academics at Oxford university shows that, even if NHS spending is protected, the attacks of 25 percent on all government departments will put the most vulnerable in danger.

While the chancellor George Osborne describes the cuts as “tough but fair”, the reality is very different.

David Stuckler, a researcher for Oxford university who contributed to the report, told Socialist Worker, “Everyone will be affected by the cuts, although to differing extents.

“People who have lost homes and jobs are among those who will be most disadvantaged.

“The cuts to social support and care come at a time when people need help from their governments the most.

“These cuts will disproportionately impact on the health of the poor.”

Development

The impact will be felt by children in families who rely on benefits.

David says, “Decisions to cut budgets for early childhood development programmes, which aim to give children a fair start in life, will almost certainly have intergenerational impacts.

“Similarly, children will also pay the price for the decision to cut family support programmes.

“A growing body of evidence is revealing—unsurprisingly—that the health of children is largely affected by the well-being of their parents. When a parent is sick, children’s education suffers.”

Some effects of the cuts “can be immediate—such as a rising risk of suicide or heart attacks when people lose jobs”.

But it will take decades to develop an analysis of other effects, “such as risks of cancer arising from the decision to smoke as a response to stress”.

David believes that poorer people are more likely to adopt hazardous lifestyles because “to paraphrase the philosophers, ‘people makes choices but not in the circumstances of their own choosing’.”

David has contributed to a forthcoming book, Sick Societies: Responding to the Global Challenge of Chronic Disease.

This says, “People’s choices about these unhealthy behaviours depend strongly on circumstances beyond their immediate control.

“By influencing the price, availability and marketing of unhealthy products, social and economic circumstances affect people’s perceived costs and benefits—the two most powerful determinants of choice.”


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