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COVID-19: UK must ‘Build Back Fairer’ warns new Marmot Review

20 December 2020

A generation of children and young people risk worsening health and living shorter lives post the COVID-19 pandemic, warns Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director of UCL's Institute of Health Equity, in his new landmark report.

Black and white photo of a housing estate

Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review notes that in England the excess death rate linked to COVID-19 is higher than anywhere else in Europe. Pandemic containment measures (lockdowns, tier systems, social isolation) have harmed children and young people’s well-being and has damaged everyone’s prospect for improved long-term health.

Contracted via UCL Consultants, a part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise, the report outlines a number of long term recommendations, including:

  • improving prevention and treatment of mental health problems among young people,
  • reducing child poverty to 10%,
  • restoring school funding-to-pupil to 2010 levels
  • enforcing minimum wages,
  • prioritising reduction of inequalities in children's early years development,
  • creating a public health system which prioritises deteriorating living and working conditions to improve health.

The new review builds on the UCL Institute of Health Equity’s Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On, published in February this year. England entered the pandemic already in a poor state of health; improvement in life expectancy was slower than in almost every other rich country, and the numbers of people in poor health was risking; inequalities in health between socioeconomic groups and regions were rising; and life expectancy for people living in the most deprived areas was actually going down. Child poverty had increased and public services had been cut, in an unfair way: steeper cuts in poorer areas. A decade of austerity had damaged the nation’s health.

The COVID-19 Marmot Review highlights the UK’s lack of social cohesion – everyone working together for the common good – as an additional reason for the country’s current poor state of health. And it implores government not to choose between our health and the economy. Countries that had more effectively managed the pandemic had less of an economic hit and, as a result, less likelihood of containment measures causing long-term harm to health and health inequalities (see Editor’s Notes for more details).

Read the full 'Build Back Fairer' story on UCL News


  • 'Council estate', credit Matt Biddulph on Flickr CC BY 2.0

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