Is austerity bad for health?
First published on 20 September 2018
Today, NHS Health Scotland has published the report, 'Working and hurting? Monitoring the health and health inequalities impacts of the economic downturn and changes to the social security system'.
This is the third report from NHS Health Scotland looking at the impacts of the economic downturn and changes to the social security system on health and health inequalities in Scotland.
This updated report highlights many positive indicators such as rising employment, fewer benefit sanctions, and historically low levels of mortality from violence and suicide.
However, it also shows a number of worrying trends, including rises in child poverty, stagnation or even reversal in previously declining mortality from some causes of death and lack of improvement in adult mental health. The initial investigation of mortality trends and austerity suggest that there may be a substantial excess mortality after 2010 in Scotland among some groups of the population, especially men, and people in the 50-74 and 85–89 age group.
Martin Taulbut, lead author of the report at NHS Health Scotland said:
"Since 2010, we have seen falls in the number of children and adults living in workless households, and rising employment rates among groups specifically targeted by UK welfare reform. However, the anticipated wider gains have either failed to materialise (working-age poverty, positive mental wellbeing) or are moving in the wrong direction (e.g. child poverty, mental health problems for young adults)."
"From the current data, we are unable to reject austerity and welfare reform as contributing to the change in mortality. Governments and public agencies have a shared responsibility to better understand the reasons for the worrying trends we are seeing, and NHS Health Scotland and partner organisations will continue to review this in 2018/19."