Britain: Sleep walking into the valley of death


Glasgow Necropolis; Glasgow is nearly at the bottom for life expectancy for men and women. Pic Credit: creative commons


Britain is literally dying. Ever since the Tory and Liberal Democrat coalition came to power a 50 year improvement in the  death rate year on year went into reverse. Whether it is the weather’s toll on the elderly,  more homelessness or the NHS failing to cope, something has happened and nobody either  notices or wants to know.

The figures are not speculation. They are official and were published in a report from the House of Commons library just before Parliament came back after the Easter recess.

It is however remarkable that this abrupt change in trends has happened ever since successive governments committed themselves to austerity. The period also  coincides with a huge attack on the welfare state – including cuts in working benefits and  a £77 billion reduction in pension payments to  3.9 million women aged between 60 and 65 – soon to be 66 – which is known to have taken its toll.

What the figures show is that: Between 1961 and 2011 both the   crude  death rate( number of deaths per 1000 people) fell every year.

Since 2011, both the number of deaths and the crude death rate have increased. The number of deaths has increased more than the crude death rate, as some of the increase in the number of deaths was due to population growth.

Provisional figures on the number of weekly deaths indicate that winter mortality was higher than usual in early 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Improvements to life expectancy have slowed in recent years for both men and women, but estimates of life expectancy have not fallen compared with earlier periods.
Among the countries and regions of the UK, in the period 2014-16 life expectancy at birth and at age 65 was highest for women in London and for men in the South East. It was lowest for both women and men in Scotland.

This winter Theresa May presided over the largest number of deaths in recent years. The report reveals that during the first twelve weeks of 2018 the figure reached 154,684 and exceeded the 149,978 equivalent figure for  2015 – when it was known there was a serious winter flu epidemic.

This year’s flu epidemic numbers have not been as great as 2015 but the overall death rate is higher.

The report also reveals that life expectancy is still going up – but at a much slower rate than previously predicted and there is a huge difference between those living in London and the South East and much of the rest of the country – with many of the lowest life expectancy in  Scotland and the North. The difference between the metropolitan and the south and the North and Scotland is nearly 10 years.

Highest life expectancy for women ( between 86 and 86.8 years) is in Camden, Kensington and Chelsea, Hart,Westminster and Chiltern ( Chesham in Buckinghamshire).

Lowest life expectancy for women  ( between 78.7 and 79.6) is in West Dumbartonshire, Glasgow, Manchester, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, North Lanarkshire and Dundee.

For men the highest rates ( from 83.7 to 82.5) are Kensington and Chelsea,East Dorset, Chiltern,Hart and Harrow.

The lowest rates  for men  ( from 73.4 to 75.4) are Glasgow, Blackpool, Dundee, West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire).

This disclosure suggests that since 2011 the country has been going into reverse and I don’t believe this is a coincidence. Nasty sharp government  policies are literally taking their toll.


44 thoughts on “Britain: Sleep walking into the valley of death

    • A very interesting read and based on evidence . As l live in Manchester increases the risk . Having worked in NHS am fortunate to now receive a pension . However to supplement this aged 60 l now have 3 part time jobs zero hours etc no security. I have been on HMRC and have paid in excess of £40,000 will l ever see a penny of this . With life’s stresses and strains am not optimistic . Not all of of us have partners or long term security , l have to rely on savings as well as working. I have friends who have worked so hard over 40 years and are relying only on State pension. I would also like to know as to why these changes were not publicised enough . Were we fore warned l believe under John Majors government ?! All l can say this is daylight robbery. As otherwise think most 50 s born women would of had chance to maybe make other financial plans . Betrayed !!!


  1. In Kensington and Chelsea, you can easily spot the very rich, and the poor. The ‘very rich’ are ‘very thin’, young or old they eat very little, they are stick thin. The poor of Kensington and Chelsea stand out because they are overweight.

    Scotland has an added problem as they have soft water. Soft water will make your washing machine last much longer, but for humans, it causes heart disease.


    • Ooh I didn’t know that about soft water…not looking good for us in Devon. Think I’d prefer less life expectancy in my washing machine and more in me!


  2. oh dear mps says hmmm haven’t they all known that the dwp would lie tell fibs and not tell the truth. They have the recording machines there already the dwp sends them by taxis from one office to another. How on earth after nearly 8yrs of Tory rule its now they waking up to the fact action t4 has been rolling along very nicely.Culling the stock right under their noses jeff3


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  4. I simply want what’s fair.
    It’s not fair that women born in 1954
    Have been treated so badly.
    It is fair that going forward men and women are treated the same.
    Why should women retire before men? If we want parity in pay and equality it must surely be applied to pensions.


  5. I have based my work life on finishing at 60.
    I have a very strenuous job in a factory I am now 53 and find it hRd going how I am expected to carry on into my 60s I have no idea, will this now mean work myself to death or be unemployed when I can no longer dothe job.
    I can just see me dragging myself into the next town to sign on, at 60+ who is going to employ me there are little enough jobs for the current population, me getting out of the jobs market surely will open up a work oportunity for a younger person, further more as we continue to be working then nobody will get any training, certainly not at the establishment where I work where on some sections the average age is 57 and there are more temps than full timers, all are from the continent of europe, all intend to return home eventually or get a better paying job, most leave after 1 to 2 years.
    Of course the added wear and tear on the body will mean a shorter life so even less pension to pay out, not that this will impact on MPs lounging around in Wesminster counting their expenses.


  6. The generation currently in their 80s were the war time young people who had known rationing, and for whom the norm was a meal of modest proportions home cooked from scratch. Those currently in middle age are consumers of fast food and ready meals- and will be lucky to see 70. Some will never collect a pension – yet statistics ignore this ticking time bomb


  7. So true and ad in the not so healthy life still of millions i.e. Not enough exercise eating poor diets stress of life I look after two generations of family 😬


  8. I beleive this report. My parents only lived to 64 and 67. I myself am 63 and already on lifelong medication due to an inherited condition. What are my chances?


  9. This is exactly why the family unit is breaking down or already broken, look at the faces around you of women in their early 60’s, they are totally worn out and in despair. These ladies including myself should be at home looking after their grandchildren or elderle’y parents whilst their own son’s and daughters are taking the place of these women who many have worked from the age of 15. Disgraceful lack of compassion and loyalty to these 50’s women by this government, shame on them..


  10. I believe there is no coincidence in the rise in pension age and the falling life expectancy.
    Successive governments are hell bent on reducing or indeed negating the need entirely to provide a good state pension for general population whilst at the same time ensuring their own gold plated pensions are secure.
    The state pensionable age has risen to 66 with no doubt more rises in the pipeline that have yet to be introduced until eventually the age at which pensions commence is commensurate with life expectancy thus rendering state pensions obsolete.
    The march to this well hidden goal is underway but no hover is going to admit to this.
    Please endeavour to expose this whilst fighting for the return to previous retirement age for woman.
    Government and institutions are continually advocating that life expectancy is continually rising. We now know this is not the case, what else are they being disingenuous about?
    Some people may be living longer however it is my personal experience that this is not the case. P


    • Yes very true and well said the Governments gold plated pensions . Who historically have never balanced the books have they ?!This is why we have got to keep fighting this decision it’s a matter of principle . For the 50s women who like myself have tried to work very hard . This is not a gift it’s money we have paid in and are entitled too.


    • Dear Pete Richards and David Hencke,
      2007 pension act has had pension age 67 for men and women born in 1960s and 1970s and from 1979 pension age 68 since 2007.

      The Tories have already announced rise from 67 to 68 for the 1970s born.

      The Cridland pension age review published 2017, had the work by government necessary to increase pension age from 68 to 69 for the 1980s born and 69 to 70 for the 1990s born.

      The millenials born 2000 onwards already in pipeline pension age 71.

      These are works pension ages not only state pension payment, when pensions themselves are doomed by half of all jobs, even highly skilled well paid, will be lost to automation, so waged humans will have vastly reduced. This is why Basic Income beginning now is important to maintain our economy which needs human wages, humans spending money whether on basic income and / or getting wages.


  11. I don’t think I ll live long enough to spend my pension, as a nurse I look aft people who are a lot fitter than myself. I have suffered from depression and anxiety for a year, I don’t think it is reasonable to expect nurses at 65 years to work in busy department. Not that nurses are alone in this. I have asked to be removed from night shift but told not possible, unless I move departments. It’s a disgrace no wonder young people do not want to enter this profession.

    Margaret Teasdale


    • I feel for you Margaret having worked in the NHS Nursing MH . It was very stressful at times . Am working part time now which is ok . Dnt expect to not work fortunately am in reasonable health . However as you say getting older ourselves . Not everyone survives till older age despite paying substantial funds into HMRC. !!


  12. Pingback: “Britain: sleep walking into the valley of death” | David Hencke | COMRADE BOYCIE

  13. Many of the women in their 50’s started work at 15. Children nowadays, who go to university start their full time work at about 23.This is 8 years behind 50’s women. They had children younger and usually more than people have nowadays, expected to run the house, deal with all childcare, take kids to appointments as it was always thought mens jobs were more important than womens, worked either full time or part time. (even with equality, women are still expected to take children to appointments, doc, dentist etc) A lot of them (including me) will have worked about 50yrs by the time they get their pension and living in Scotland will probably deop dead before I get my first pension payment.


  14. Wow! I know about health Inequalities, having studied nursing, but the effects on health due to government policy and “austerity” is shameful.


  15. As a single 50’s woman who has worked since age 16, and now retired, I can say that living off my small NHS pension would have been impossible without savings to carry me through. Not only have we 50’s women not received our lifetime worked for and so justly deserved pensions, but we have not received back our years of contributions either.Birth, life and death have become big business and the people merely commodities of this business. It is simply shameful on successive governments to treat their people this way. There is no money for life, but there is always untold amounts of money for death..war..not just shameful but immoral, unethical and downright evil.


  16. Hi David,

    it’s important also to note that when this report refers to “life expectancy” —as when it says “estimates of life expectancy have not fallen compared with earlier periods”— it is referring strictly to a technical measure known as ‘period life expectancy’ (see p. 4) which, as it notes “is not a projection of actual life expectancy for any given individual, as it does not attempt to incorporate trends in life expectancy.” Notably, the report rigorously avoids making any comment whatsoever on what it refers to as ‘cohort life expectancy.’

    As the ONS itself states: “Cohort figures are therefore regarded as a more appropriate measure of how long a person of a given age would be expected to live on average than the alternative measure, known as period life expectancy, which is calculated using mortality rates for a fixed period in time.”

    According to the ONS, cohort life expectancy for males/females across the UK at birth in 2014 was 90.4/93.2 years. In 2016 it had fallen to 89.3/91.9 years. In short, estimates of life expectancy *have* fallen.

    This choice to use exclusively one statistic —perhaps made in order to avoid raising controversy or objections— has the result, intentionally or unintentionally, of making the figures look better than they actually are and so letting the government of the hook to some extent. When they write, “estimates of life expectancy have not fallen compared with earlier periods,” this is not actually true unless one restricts the interpretation of the expression “estimates of life expectancy” to refer exclusively to period life expectancy; the reality is that the estimated real life expectancy of most individuals (e.g. as estimated by actuarial teams working in the life insurance industry) is in fact falling, hence the headlines reported and real quantifiable financial consequences: ‘Worsening outlook for UK life expectancy boosts insurers’ (FT), ‘Worsening life expectancy drives Legal & General profit rise’ (Guardian).

    Period life expectancy tends to follow pretty much the same evolution as ASMRs as it measures how much longer someone would live on average from a given age ***if mortality rates did not change*** (and so provides little more information than ASMRs).
    But mortality rates *are* changing and are expected to improve every year as the combined result of many factors, some current, some historic: e.g. they may improve year or year as the cohort at any given age, being born later, has experienced better healthcare and nutrition over their lifetimes than previous generations. Thus *period* life expectancy could continue to improve (albeit at a slower rate) on the basis of historic factors even in the face of catastrophic set-backs due to current failures in health & social care systems as long as the negative effects of the latter do not exceed the gains already baked in due to the former. But gains in this specific statistic must not be allowed to mask the fact that individuals affected by set-backs in improvement over time are being robbed of real life expectancy.

    I know it’s hard to visualise, but the point is that an exclusive focus on period life expectancy is misleading, as demonstrated by the news from the insurance industry whose business depends entirely on making accurate forecasts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Charlie Echo and David Hencke,
      The working class (75 per cent of us by income) have always begun to die in big number from age 50. So many have died since 2011-2014 when austerity, pension age rise began, with welfare state replaced by focus on leaving you to starve, that the pension industry have swallowed as profit around £310bn in profit by not having to pay out to the early dead below age 64 / as soon as retired. The average age of death amongst the poorest is 55. This is in every city between the richest who as a norm live 25 years longer than all the rest of us, and the poorest, throughout the UK.


  17. Money and lifestyle and privilage has a lot to do with this. It is clear that if you are well off you can afford to eat better heat your home have holidays and nice things. The rest of us have a daily struggle to do anything like this. Many are already living with ill health.


  18. The policies of this Tory government are exacerbating the conditions in which people are living in: poverty food banks low pay health service failing etc social care inadequate. The elite are living longer because they have enough money to ride the storm whilst the poor are treated appallingly .we need everybody to benefit from the wealth not just a few.


  19. Dear David Hencke,
    Austerity is published science as solely to kill off the poor, throughout world history.
    Poverty kills and we’ve got poorer while the rich have got richer, and so wealthiest’s lifespan is 25 years as a norm more than the rest of us, even from one part of London to another.
    Now welfare reform will hit the low waged with Universal Credit, which will also hit the pensioner poor by denying pension credit to men the right age to claim, due to wife being below raised pension age.
    Pension reform wedded to austerity and welfare reform have killed the 1950s women and the I Daniel Blakes who lost pension credit as a result, to such an extent since 2011-2014 that the pension industry have swallowed as profit around £310bn in profit by not having to pay out to the early dead below age 64 / as soon as retired.

    New Labour under Blair and Brown were worse than Tory Thatcher / Major against the state pension’s terms and value. So Labour now owes us pension 60 men and women / increased state pension, which is what Jeremy Corbyn said in parliament in 1993 and he is now Labour leader. This would put huge pressure on this minority Tory government.
    Please share my submission to the Labour Policy Forum, asking people to register on that website as GUEST (or Labour party member if they are one) and in my policy submission’s comment box say


  20. Does that mean then that Northerners should get their pensions earlier than the southerners since their life expectancy is lower?


  21. Brain injury caused by neglectful council – loss of job – loss of home – lying Neurologist who did the court report – should be jailed – DWP who did not assess and provide benefits for me because they delayed and then cancelled my appointment – should be jailed for illegally forcing a brain injured middle aged woman out of her home. After all what would a landlord get for evicting a well tenant? Unable to work due to brain injury – scamming DWP assessment that is not fit for purpose. Not able to make NI contributions – sofa hopping now for three years!!!!!!


  22. Thank David for highlighting the issues-the excuses for the totally unfair implementation of an increase in SPA. The National Insurance Fund only needed to be managed consistently in line with original plan for it for this to to have been unnecessary.


  23. Pingback: Planned pension-age rise means most will die before ever seeing it | Vox Political

  24. Pingback: Revealed: The poor health in old age scandal | Westminster Confidential

  25. Having to work longer has definitely taken its toll? I worked all my life since 15 and left my job in NHS at 64 as I couldn’t do with the stress any longer? I was lucky to have a husband with a good police pension? If I had carried on working with the stress and arthritis I wouldn’t be here today I’m sure?


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