Britain’s economy will take a hit of £8bn this year from a reduction in the size of the workforce caused by a pandemic-induced increase in ill health, research by a think tank has shown.
A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research said that a combination of long-term Covid, disruption to the NHS and a rise in mental illness meant that 400,000 workers were “missing” since the start of the global health crisis.
The report, published to mark the launch of the IPPR’s two-year Health and Prosperity Commission, said the UK was paying a heavy price for deep health inequalities and ineffective policies that meant people were living shorter lives and faced biggest barriers to staying and continuing at work.
The IPPR said the link between health and the economy goes beyond people being out of work due to illness and ill health, and is a crucial factor in the UK’s low productivity, low growth and vast regional inequalities.
Two years after the start of the pandemic, the UK workforce is more than 1 million people smaller than it would have been in pre-crisis trends. The IPPR said health factors accounted for nearly half of the drop.
People living in the most economically disadvantaged parts of the country, such as Blackpool, Knowsley and Barking and Dagenham, were, on average, in poor health in their late 50s, five years earlier than the national average and 12 years earlier than people living in the United States. healthiest place, Wokingham.
Dame Sally Davies, former medical director for England and co-chair of the IPPR Health and Prosperity Commission, said there has never been a more important time to put good health at the heart of society and the economy. “A fairer country is healthier, and a healthier country is more prosperous,” she said. “While restrictions have eased, the scars of the pandemic still remain deep in the health of the country and our economy.”
Another committee member, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “One of the fundamental beliefs of the British public is that everyone should have access to good health, regardless of their means and location. But today we see serious inequalities in health and opportunities. Good health must be built everywhere people live across the country and communities must be supported to take greater control of their health and well-being.”