There is a life expectancy gap of up to 10 years between some areas of England, according to Office of National Statistics (ONS) data on life expectancy in England, Northern Ireland and Wales for the 2020-22 period.
In 2020 to 2022, the English regions with the highest and lowest male life expectancy, respectively, were the South East (80.1 years) and the North East (77.2 years), a gap of 3.0 years.
For women the English regions with the highest and lowest female life expectancy were the South West (83.9 years) and the North East (81.2 years), a gap of 2.8 years.
Drilling down, the differences in life expectancy were even greater when looking at local areas.
In 2020 to 2022 across all local areas, male life expectancy was highest in Hart (83.7 years) and lowest in Blackpool (73.4 years), a gap of more than a decade; female life expectancy was highest in Kensington and Chelsea (86.3 years) and lowest in Blaenau Gwent (78.9 years), a gap of 7.5 years.
Hart is a district in Hampshire in South East England, with an average salary of £756 per week, according to Think Plutus. Kensington and Chelsea in London has an average salary of £712 per week.
That compares to Blackpool in Lancashire with an average salary of £598 per week and Blaenau Gwent in south east Wales with an average salary of £601 per week.
Bold strategies required
Veena Raleigh, senior fellow at The King’s Fund, said: “Today’s ONS data shows the yawning gap in life expectancy between some of the most and least deprived areas of England.
“Differences in life expectancy are driven by socio-economic inequalities, including levels of income, education, housing and employment, with people in more deprived areas having significantly shorter lives on average than people in less deprived areas,” Raleigh said.
“Inequalities in life expectancy were widening before the pandemic, and have widened further because of the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people living in deprived areas.
“The long-standing north-south divide in life expectancy persists, with the more deprived communities of the North East and North West having the lowest life expectancy and the less deprived populations of London and the South East having the highest.”
But Raleigh added even within these regions, life expectancy varies significantly by the level of deprivation.
“Much of this heavy burden of sickness and death is caused by preventable conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, and hits deprived communities the hardest,” Raleigh continued.
“Bold strategies for reducing deadly risk factors such as smoking (for example the phased smoking ban) and obesity, earlier diagnosis and treatment of ill health, and a cross-government strategy for tackling the determinants of ill health in poor communities should be top priorities – because behind these statistics are the devastating impacts they have on individuals, families, communities and society at large.”