Children are sicker because of Tory austerity (Picture: Flickr/ Number 10)

Tory austerity has snatched a healthy start to life from a generation of children. That’s the conclusion of a shocking new report by the widely-respected Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS). It says that extreme child poverty has trebled in three years and progress on other measures of children’s health is stalling.

Healthcare in Tory Britain is now so bad that the infant survival rate is worse than in most similar countries. The AMS report’s latest figures show there are four deaths per 1,000 live births in Britain. That’s more than double the 1.7 in Japan and 1.8 in Finland, Slovenia and Sweden.

The report says increases in childhood obesity and declines in vaccination rates are now the main reasons for children’s hospital admissions. That’s also alongside dental extractions resulting from preventable tooth decay. And it notes a huge rise in demand for children’s mental health services.

The AMS says, “The decline in child health and wellbeing is further compounded by increases in the cost of living and the Covid-19 pandemic. “Those most disadvantaged are impacted most strongly, widening health inequalities which persist throughout life and are often transmitted to subsequent generations.”

Crisis Dr Mike McKean, vice president of the Royal College of Paediatrics, agrees. He said, “We are presiding over a crisis in child health that demands urgent action. “As paediatricians, we witness daily the devastating consequences of these systemic failures.” The collapse of primary care health services means that local medical centres are overwhelmed.

And, as the cost of living crisis has raged, it has become ever harder for poorer people to live healthy lives. But for the right, the report is another excuse to blame working class families. Tory MP James Daly last month said most people who struggle in his Bury constituency are the “products of crap parents”.

The Tory party conference last year gave him rapturous applause as he told them, “We have appalling parents bringing children up in appalling ways.” He added, “There are no excuses… I blame parents”. Labour this month launched its strategy for children’s health.

It promised that a future Keir Starmer-led government would cut NHS waiting times for children and ensure quick access to mental health services. But unless the party addresses the fundamental problems of growing poverty and the crisis in the NHS by committing to greater spending, its promises mean little. 

Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, makes this point. She says it is “clear that poverty is a key driver of ill health”. “Children who grow up in poverty experience more ill-health in childhood, and are likely to lead shorter, less healthy lives as they reach adulthood.

“There are currently 4.2 million children living in poverty in Britain today, and without child poverty reduction being a clear priority, then I fear this action plan could fall short of its objectives.”

No pension until you’re 71 say ‘experts’

The relentless drive to make workers work until they drop gathered more pace this week. A report by right wing economists urged future governments to raise the retirement age to an incredible 71 years.

The International Longevity Centre said this is necessary because of the effect of growing life expectancy and falling birth rates on the state pension. The British pension age of 66 is set to rise to 67 between May 2026 and March 2028. From 2044, it is expected to rise to 68.

Any such move would target the poorest older workers because they are most likely to build their retirement plans around the state pension. But it would make relatively little difference to the managerial class that looks forward to life on the golf course by their 60s, paid for with years of savings and other assets.

By the age of 70 only half of adults in England and Wales are disability free. But things are far worse for the most deprived people. Between 2018 and 2020, a man in this group could expect to live until they were aged 78.3 years. Meanwhile, the best-off males had an average life span eight years longer, dying after they were 86.

To make matters worse, the least well off could only expect to be in good health for 51.9 years. Rather than wait for a torrid, non-retirement, all workers should rage about rising retirement ages now.

A Tory stealth tax raid will hit up to 900,000 pensioners with a surprise income tax bill next year, new analysis has shown. The government’s six-year freeze on tax thresholds will force hundreds of thousands of retirees claiming a married couple’s tax break to pay a levy on their state pensions for the first time.

The marriage allowance enables one half of a couple to transfer a tenth, or £1,260, of their personal tax-free allowance to the other. This rule—that discriminates in favour of the “traditional” couple—saves them up to £252 a year provided the other is a basic rate tax payer. Cuts in ordinary pensioners’ income should be opposed. So should a benefit system that is slanted by narrow definitions of relationships.

Tories aid Sunak’s family

A top Tory is accused of offering a “VIP lane” for Rishi Sunak’s wife’s firm in Britain. An investigation by the Daily Mirror newspaper last week revealed details of a meeting between the Conservative operator and tech firm Infosys.

The government refused to disclose details of the meeting until journalists used the Freedom of Information law to force it to release the specifics. The prime minister’s wife Akshata Murty has £642 million in shares in the company. Murty’s Infosys shares got her £13 million last year in dividends.

Trade minister Lord Dominic Johnson in India last April said he would be happy to help Infosys. He told the firm he would “do what he could” to ensure its growth in Britain. Infosys is now vying for British contracts worth £750 million after ministers added it to the list of “approved suppliers”.

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