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UK Researchers Say Welfare Programme Cuts Affects Health

welfare programme

UK researchers have said that rates of heart disease and alcohol-related illnesses increases as a result of public spending being reduced.
A study carried out by an investigative team for the British Medical Journal concluded that a £70 reduction in social spending per person would spiral the alcohol illness upwards by 2.8% and heart disease by 1.2%.

Researchers collated data about government spending from 15 European countries including the UK from 1980 to 2005.

Trends Show Death Rates Increase as Public Spending Falls

Analysis revealed that as government spending was high, death rates fell and when social spending plummeted mortality rates grew.
Social circumstances were the strongest link to more cases of heart disease, and health deterioration was also connected with social spending on welfare independently of levels of health spending.

The most vulnerable groups likely to be affected are the long-term unemployed, disabled people and families and children.
Reductions in other areas of government spending such as in military spending or on prisons showed no such correlations with higher rates of death.

The study’s release comes after George Osborne revealed that his June 22 2011 emergency budget is to attack benefit payments
Government departments budgets will be slashed by 25% over the next four years apart from the protected areas of the National Health Service and international aid.

Attacks on benefit payments include a reduction in housing benefits from 2012 with a ceiling of £400 implemented, with the unemployed facing a 10% reduction from 2013 in their housing payments.

There will be more stringent tests for those who claim disability benefits from 2013, and the health in pregnancy grant is to be abolished from 2011 with the Sure Start maternity grant restricted to the first child.

Professor Says that Welfare Programme Spending is More Important than Health

The leader of the study, Dr. David Stuckler, a lecturer at the University of Oxford, believes that welfare spending may be a better use of resource than ring fenced health spending.

He also warned the coalition government that sharp attacks on the state will prove to have far reaching negative effects.

He told news.bbc.co.uk "So far the discussions around budget cuts have largely focused on economics. But social circumstances are crucial to people's health and our study shows there could be quite significant harms. If we want to promote a sustainable recovery in Britain, we must first ensure that we have taken care of people's most basic health needs."

In the UK there are currently an estimated 200,000 heart disease deaths every year and 9,000 fatalities from alcohol.

Dr Struckler concluded in his study that between 6,500 and 38,000 extra deaths would occur after putting through Osborne’s measures on a mathematical model.

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UK Study: More are Overweight and Alcohol-related Deaths Increase

overweight

The latest Social Trends report released by the Office National of Statistics has uncovered that alcohol-related deaths are on the increase but life expectancy is lengthening.

One in five men and one in seven women over the age of 16 consume more than double the daily allowance for alcohol once a week, increasing the amount of people who suffer from alcohol illness.

The ONS has been collating data since the 1970s on how people live in the UK and behavioural changes in society. Matthew Hughes, editor of Social Trends 40, told the telegraph.co.uk "The UK and the world are very different places now compared to 40 years ago. This book represents an overall picture of life in the UK today."

Life Expectancy is Higher for Women and Smoking Rates Fall

The report revealed that men are now expected to live to 77.8 years old 10 years older when compared to the '70s. Women are also living longer on average until 82 years old, a slightly less increase of seven years.

There was more encouraging health news over smoking rates as the number of heavy smokers has fallen considerably. In the last four decades male heavy smokers has decreased from 26 per cent to seven per cent. Women have also seen their rates of smoking fall with a drop of eight per cent down to just five per cent.

Social Changes Include Marriage and Communications

The ons.gov.uk also found that more people are living in single person households and do not feel the need to get married. Since 1971 there has been a doubling of single person households to 12 per cent. Two thirds of people over the age of 18 feel fulfilled enough in their lives not having a regular partner with more women putting off having children until later in life.

One of the largest behavioural changes over the last 40 years has been communications due to the internet revolution. Internet connection has now risen to 66 per cent in households compared to to nine per cent -staggeringly over the last ten years only.

Hughes opined: "The statistics highlight some of the main social changes over the last four decades. We are now living longer, less of us get married, and household sizes are smaller.”

"More of us have cars, women are having babies later in life, and more of our household spending goes on housing, water and fuel."

Other significant changes are the amount of those progressing onto higher education with numbers rising since the 1970s by almost two million.
More passports are also needed in modern day Britain as more than 40 million foreign holidays are taken than four decades ago with Spain still tourist’s most popular destination.

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