What we learned this week: Leap Day

28 February 2020

So it’s the end of February and everyone has had enough. The rain, the flooding, the Coronavirus. The good news is that it’s March this weekend, in like a lion, out like a lamb and all that. I’m afraid this week’s What We Learned is no barrel of laughs. The news is very reflective of the mood. Anyway, if you can take it, read on, there is a reason to be cheerful at the end:

"England has lost a decade"

The words of Prof Michael Marmot, who on Tuesday published his latest review on health equality in the UK. In the ten years since his previous review was published things have not improved. In some cases they have got worse.

Calling the damage to the nation's health "shocking", the report found that life expectancy among women living in the poorest communities in England has declined since 2011. Overall, life expectancy growth has stalled over the past decade - for the first time in 100 years.

The largest decreases were seen in the most deprived areas of north-east England, while the biggest increases were in the richest parts of London.

“Revealing the differences between high and low salaries might just pay”

Last Friday NatCen’s Alan Humphrey, who spoke at our event on the pay gap, published a blog which reflected on the event and its findings:

“It’s likely that the information will have an impact on pay bargaining and settlements. Suddenly, both management and workforces will be able to draw on information about the pay structures of similar organisations during pay negotiations.”

Inequality is increasing

There has been disagreement on whether income inequality in the UK has been increasing or decreasing in recent years. We now know for sure. The ONS published figures showing that Britain’s biggest earners are better off than we thought, meaning inequality has definitely grown.

The Telegraph’s Russell Lynch reported:

“The top 10% of UK earners are almost £10,000 a year better off than previously thought, statisticians have found.
The Office for National Statistics has struggled to measure the income of wealthier people accurately until now because they are less likely to respond to surveys.
But using tax data from the HMRC, the ONS found that the top 10pc earned an average £97,600 in 2017-18 - up from previous estimates of £87,700.”

Solutions to employment for people with disabilities

The Centre for Social Justice pointed out on Wednesday that ‘past and present governments have had their disability employment programmes in place for half a century. Yet the disability employment gap has remained stagnant at 30% and hasn’t changed in a decade.’

On Wednesday they published a report on commissioning excellence in disability. Researcher Emily Farley said:

“The government must reassess how it commissions its disability employment support by opening the market up to the voluntary and community sector, and so pave the way for more disabled people to access sustained & life-changing employment.”

And finally, some good news

Kudos to the campaigners working to eradicate Period Poverty in Scotland, where all parties have backed a bill which if passed, will make Scotland the first country in the world to give women free access to sanitary products. Campaigning really does work.

Thanks to the following for their tweets this week: @EmilyFarley92, @TheMarmotReview,@WinchesterUCU and @russ_lynch