The welfare system is damaging the health of the poor, and the aftermath of the Covid epidemic needs to be checked, a health inequality expert in the UK warns.
Sir Michael Marmot said increasing unemployment benefits and support for low-wage workers as the country moves out of the pandemic could have a major impact on deterring the mental health crisis and saving lives.
Mamot, who chaired the government’s main review of health inequality in 2010 and warned last year that life expectancy first stopped in the UK for more than 100 years, said in an interview with observers that ministers shouldn’t get around the edge. Instead, the indifferent system needs to be radically reformed in place.
During the pandemic, he said, we saw poor people getting poorer. We know that food insecurity has increased. The likelihood of being in a closed sector increased with lower income. So, you are in a closed field, low income, had to go out to work in an unsafe field, or have a frontline job. Where we were in February 2020 was unfavorable and what happened with the pandemic exacerbated inequality.
I have seen evidence that it affects mental health in some people with universal credit. It’s a brutal system. Everyone should have the minimum income needed for a healthy life. That said, ideally everyone of working age should work. That’s a desirable state.
And at work, they must be paid a living wage. If you are unable to work for any reason, the welfare system must be generous enough so that your health is not compromised by that experience. We know what to do. Let’s do it.
His intervention came as one of the government’s advisers warned that ministers would face massive political backlash when the 20-weekly increase in universal credit cuts later this year. Charlotte Pickles, a member of the government’s social security advisory board and architect of universal credit, said the current system is not generous enough.
If you think about the red wall-mounted seats in the country where the Conservatives won in December 2019, there will be a lot of people in the area that could benefit from 20 years, she told the Institute for Fiscal Studies podcast. . I think these 20 rises should be extended further. Not because its political consequences will be enormous, but because the benefits are too low for now.
There is growing evidence that the epidemic increases poverty, hitting the poorest and those in low-wage labor. According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, the number of households in the UK more than doubled in poverty last year. Meanwhile, there is also evidence that some cities have the highest rates of Covid infection among working poor. People who couldn’t afford self-isolation in low-wage jobs, according to a report by the Sheffield Council, suffered the most.
Marmot’s findings have shown that more generous labor market support can affect suicide rates during recessions, suggesting that reconsideration can prevent a lot of suffering.
The evidence showed that the generosity of aggressive labor market programs, such as unemployment insurance and efforts to get people back to work, break the link between increased unemployment and increased suicide, he said.
It can actually be prevented through an active government program. And the more generous such programs are, the weaker the link between increased unemployment and increased suicide. The government has the power to stop people from committing suicide. I think it makes sense to see suicide as the tip of the iceberg. If government policy could prevent suicide, it could also prevent mental illness.
A government spokesman said: We are committed to supporting minimum wage families to ensure that no one is left behind through the epidemic and beyond. That’s why we are the best with the 229m Covid Winter Grant scheme to raise living wages, spend hundreds of billions of dollars to protect jobs, increase welfare aid and local authorities funding to billions, and keep children and families warm. We support those in need. I really enjoyed the meal. It also provided $32 million to food ration charities next year to tackle the problem of homelessness and harsh sleep.
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