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People living in England’s “left behind” communities were 46 per cent more likely to die from Covid-19 than those in the rest of the country, a new report has found.
The study also found that people in these neighbourhoods work longer hours and live shorter lives, with more years in ill health.
“Left behind” neighbourhoods differ from regular deprived areas by having fewer social and cultural assets, on top of economic problems.
They lack places to meet, connectivity, good transport links and an active and engaged community.
They are mainly found in the Midlands and North in de-industrialised areas, and coastal areas in the South.
A joint report by the All-Parliamentary Party Group for such neighbourhoods and the Northern Health Science Alliance has called for measures to reduce health inequalities.
The study found that people living in the areas were 46 per cent more likely to die from Covid-19 than those in the rest of England, and life expectancy for men was 3.7 years fewer than average and three years fewer for women.
Also, people in these neighbourhoods can expect to live 7.5 fewer years in good health than those in the rest of England.
“Health is at the forefront of all our minds right now," said the group's co-chair, Paul Howell, who is the Conservative MP for Sedgefield.
“The findings from this report are clear. People living in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods are overall worse off when it comes to health and something needs to change."
His co-chair, the Labour MP for Kingston-upon-Hull, Dame Diana Johnson, said: “Whilst sustained investment in our health system is needed to make this possible, support and funding at a local level is also needed to ensure people and the communities in which they live in are happy, healthy and thriving, rather than continuing to be left behind."
The report's co-author, Newcastle University public health expert Prof Clare Bambra, said: “For too long, a lack of investment in key services has meant that more deprived, ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods – particularly in the north – have suffered disproportionately.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened these inequalities and it will cast a long shadow across our future heath and economic prosperity as a country unless we act now.
“That’s why levelling up health needs to be central to the government’s overall approach to levelling up the country.”