Money Wellness
An unemployed young man living in a deprived area gazes out of the window of his flat
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calendar icon19 Jan 2024

‘Bad health blackspots’ linked to persistent unemployment – find out what support’s available if you’re too sick to work

The UK has among the largest health inequalities of any advanced economy, a new report has found.

Research from the independent charity the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found people living in the most deprived council areas in England are nearly one and a half times more likely to be economically inactive and are twice as likely to be in poor health than those in the most affluent areas.

You’re classed as economically inactive if you’re out of work, not looking for work, not waiting to start a job and not in full-time education.

Poor health and economic inactivity

One in every 10 people in Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham are in bad health compared to about one in 33 in Hart, West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire.

The apparent link between bad health and economic inactivity is stark.

In Liverpool, 33.9% of working aged people are economically inactive. The figure for Manchester is 34.2% and it rises to 38.5% in Nottingham. In contrast, in Hart the figure is 17.4%, in West Oxfordshire it’s 17.1% and in South Oxfordshire it's 17.8%.

Healthy life expectancy divide

The divide is reiterated by healthy life expectancy statistics. In Liverpool, the healthy life expectancy is 58 years. In Wokingham, it’s over 70. Healthy life expectancy means the average number of years a person can expect to live in good health.

Across the UK, the healthy life expectancy gap between the healthiest and unhealthiest councils is 23.5 years for women and 21.2 years for men.

Call for action

IPPR is calling for a new network of health and prosperity improvement zones (HAPI) to be established across the UK. These zones would focus on seven key areas, including:

  • physical health
  • mental health
  • housing quality
  • addiction

Sick Britain

IPPR commissioner James Bethell said:

“Sick Britain is something we just cannot afford. We urgently need a plan to give people and communities real power over their health.”

Sickness benefits

If you have a long-term health condition that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to financial help.

Find out what support you can claim by using our free benefits calculator.

You can also read up on the financial help that’s available in our guide on disability, sickness and carer benefits.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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