Brits Suffering 'Grim' Victorian Diseases Due To Poverty, Says Public Health Expert

Rishi Sunak insists his "plan is working".

Britain is becoming a “grim” place to live with people suffering Victorian-era diseases, one of the country’s leading public health experts has said.

Sir Michael Marmot warned that poverty was “guaranteeing” sickness among the poorest in society as people could not afford essentials including food.

“It’s deeply deeply depressing. It’s grim in the extreme,” the professor of epidemiology and public health at UCL told LBC. “Essentially Britain has become a poor country with a few rich people.”

A report from the Jospeh Rowntree Foundation published today concluded over one in five people in the UK (22%) were in poverty in 2021/22.

This equates to 14.4 million people in total - more than 6 million of them children and pensioners.

The analysis showed poverty fell during the first half of the last Labour government but started to rise after 2005.

And poverty has “barely moved” since Conservative-led governments took power in 2010, with the poverty rate hovering between 20% and 22%.

Marmot authored a report earlier this month which revealed more than one million people in England died earlier than they should have done between 2011 and the start of the pandemic as a result of austerity.

He said part of the problem was nutritious food such as fruit and vegetables were more expensive than cheaper items full of fat and sugar.

“The idea we are starting to suffer the same diseases that in Victorian times people in long ocean voyages suffered because the shortage of citrus fruits is simply horrendous,” he said.

“Universal Credit pays 70% of the cost of meeting essentials. So If you’re on Universal Credit, if you’re on benefits, we guarantee you will get sick because we don’t give you enough money to eat healthily, to heat your home or meet the other essentials.”

He added: “At the very poor end of the distribution it’s worse to be poor in Britain than in most other European countries.

“Poor people in Britain have a lower income than Slovenia. It really is bad to be poor in Britain.”

Speaking to broadcasters on Monday, Rishi Sunak said his government’s “plan is working” as he urged voters not to abandon the Conservatives for Labour. “If we stick with the plan, we can build a brighter future,” he said.


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