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Guest Column: Austerity is to blame for rise in deaths

Gloria De Piero MP
Gloria De Piero MP

We have been used to medical advances and better living and working conditions meaning that people can expect to live longer than ever before.

There are still big differences between the life expectancy of people in richer and poorer areas.

However, improvements to life expectancy are now slowing for the first time in more than a century – and a number of experts are blaming Tory austerity measures.

In the first seven weeks of 2018, 10,000 more people died in England and Wales than was usual for the time of year.

There has not been any explanation for this rise from Government health officials.

Some academics are now linking the increase in deaths to Govern-ment cuts, particularly those affecting the NHS and adult social care.

The lack of care home places, problems getting people the care they need in their own homes and the huge pressures on hospitals are all plausible contributions to the fact more people are dying.

A debate was held in Parliament last week to highlight this worrying issue.

What we need is for the Government to recognise this is a problem and to act.

Austerity is literally killing people in my view – and it is the elderly and the most vulnerable who are being affected first.

I have mentioned many times before about the problems constituents have with claiming benefits and the right amount of money being paid to them at the right time.

This problem is going to continue after Universal Credit is rolled out in Ashfield this year I fear.

I was contacted by a gentleman from Kirkby who was really struggling after receiving less benefit than he expected.

I queried his case with the Department for Work and Pensions and it made an extra financial hardship payment because of his financial situation.

I hope this was a welcome help to the gentleman but shows yet again that the Department for Work and Pensions should think about an individual’s circumstances rather 
than just cutting benefits in a one-size-fits-all method.