This blog is written by members of staff at the UCL Institute of Health Equity. To find out more about us, visit our website.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Dr Angela Donkin Responds to Alarming New Data from Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Today JRF published alarming data that illustrate again an increase in the numbers of households not able to afford an acceptable standard of living. Of all the households studied, there has been an increase in those unable to afford an acceptable standard of living, from 21% in 2008/9, to 24.8 % in 20011/12, and now to 27.3% for this year.

For families with children it is more worrying.  In 2008/9 30.6% were unable to afford a minimum standard of living, now the figure is at 39%.

In the Marmot Review we made it very clear that having a sufficient income to lead a healthy life was a key social determinant of health. Therefore increasing numbers living below acceptable standards will be bad for health outcomes, and inequalities in health.

Not having enough money makes it difficult to afford a healthy diet, decent housing, fuel for heating and cooking, appropriate clothing, and to pay for any exercise that carries a cost.  Items such as travel and birthday cards that are important for social integration, are often out of reach. Alongside the associated health impacts of inadequate nutrition, and cold and damp housing, not having enough money, and particularly being in debt, is associated with increased stress and depression.  Increased stress and depression have been linked to a range of negative health outcomes, and can have a negative impact on children’s development.

It is deeply embarrassing to live in a country where nearly 4 out of 10 households with children cannot afford a decent standard of living.  We support JRF’s call for improvements in income and efforts to moderate the costs of essential goods.   

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