Capitalism kills – UK death rate increased by Tory austerity war on workers


ON MONDAY, the BMJ health journal published the results of its research into the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and the austerity policies ruthlessly pursued by the Tories since 2010 on the life expectancy of workers, especially the poorest section forced to live on poverty level wages and benefits.

While not surprising, the results of this research are a brutal reminder that all the ‘sacrifices’ that the Tories, the Bank of England and Starmer’s Labour Party have demanded, in order to keep the banks and bosses from going bust and keep British capitalism struggling on, are responsible for the premature deaths of thousands of workers and their families.

The study showed that the cost-of-living crisis and the ongoing period of sky-high prices for essentials like food and energy will reduce life expectancy across the country by 6.5% this year.

This means a predicted increase in premature deaths – that is people dying before they reach the age of 75 – will sharply increase with 30 extra deaths per 100,000 people because of poverty.

This equates to thousands of extra deaths a year across the UK.

The study highlighted the devastating impact of inflation on the lifespan of the most deprived households which it found will experience four times the number of extra deaths as the wealthiest, due to the poorest having to spend a much larger proportion of their income on energy and food.

The researchers said: ‘The mortality impacts of inflation and real-terms income reduction are likely to be large and negative, with marked inequalities in how these are experienced. Implemented public policy responses are not sufficient to protect health and prevent widening inequalities.’

In fact, the only public policy response from the Tories and the Bank of England has been to try to hold back inflation by driving up interest rates which have pushed the cost-of-living to the point where working class families have to choose between eating, heating or paying the rent.

Last month, the consumer association ‘Which?’ warned that the huge rise in food costs, still shooting up by 13.6% a year, had forced low-income households to make ‘desperate choices’ between keeping up with their bills or putting food on the table.

The researchers were unequivocal about the cause of this increased death rate among low-paid workers, saying: ‘Evidence suggests that since 2012 economic conditions in the UK have caused a stalling of life expectancy and widened health inequalities, as austerity led to weaker social security and reduced income for the poorest households.’

It is not just the elderly who are dying prematurely as a result of Tory policies.

Research published last year by the end-of-life charity Marie Curie, based on research carried out by Loughborough University, revealed that people of working age are at a high risk, with over 1-in-4 of this group dying in poverty.

This makes those who die at working age more than twice as likely to die in poverty as those who live past pension age.

It has for years been acknowledged that ‘austerity kills’, that all the cuts to wages and benefits, along with the deliberate slashing of the health budget designed to smash the NHS and open the way to privatisation, have had a massive effect on the health of workers and increased the death rate by hundreds of thousands.

Yet, the TUC has stood back and refused to lift a finger to fight the Tories and their murderous policies.

The time has now come for the working class to put an end to a capitalist system that in its death agony is determined to make workers pay with their lives to keep the bankers and bosses in profit.

The only way forward for workers is to force the TUC to call a general strike to bring down this Tory government and take power by bringing in a workers’ government and a socialist planned economy which puts the lives of workers and their families above all else.

Only the WRP and Young Socialists fight for this programme and policy – join today to build up the leadership required for the victory of the socialist revolution.