Life expectancy in England falls to lowest level since 2011

Excess deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic contributed to life expectancy in England falling last year to its lowest level in almost a decade, according to Public Health England (PHE).

PHE said the “very high level” of excess deaths caused life expectancy to fall by 1.3 years for men, to 78.7, and 0.9 years for women to 82.7.

The organisation said this was the lowest life expectancy since 2011 for both sexes.

PHE published its Health Profile for England 2021 report on Wednesday, which it said gave the most comprehensive look at the state of the nation’s health.

It said the level of inequality in life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas for both men and women was higher than all previous years for which PHE has data, therefore covering the past two decades.

Its report stated: “This demonstrates that the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in life expectancy by deprivation.

“Covid-19 was the cause of death that contributed most to the gap in 2020, however, higher mortality from heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases in deprived areas remained important contributors.”

Elsewhere in its report, PHE said dementia and Alzheimer’s disease remained the leading cause of death in England in women and the third largest in men.

Dementia was reported as the main pre-existing health condition in about a quarter of all deaths involving Covid-19 between March and June 2020 last year, the report said.

By June this year there were about 35,000 fewer people aged 65 and over with a diagnosis of dementia, PHE said, potentially attributing this drop to higher deaths among people with dementia during the pandemic as well as reduced access to diagnostic services.

The report said half of people with a worsening health condition between May 2020 and January 2021 did not seek treatment, mostly due to not wanting to add to pressure on the NHS or for fear of catching the virus.

PHE said there had been an “unprecedented” rise in deaths caused by alcohol use, up 20% last year compared to 2019.

The report also noted the “profound effect” of the pandemic on the life of young people “through isolation and interruptions to education”.

It said: “Some of these effects will be longer-term and data are not available to measure them yet.”

In conclusion, PHE said: “The report has highlighted how the direct impact of Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected people from ethnic minority groups, people living in deprived areas, older people and those with pre-existing health conditions.

“There have been substantial indirect effects on children’s education and mental health, and on employment opportunities across the life course, but particularly for younger people working in sectors such as hospitality and entertainment.

“In addition, it is clear that access and use of a range of health services has been disrupted during the pandemic and the long-term effects of this is not yet realised.”

Back British Farming Day – Wednesday 15 September 2021 – Hansard – UK Parliament

Neil Parish MP

“I thank my hon. Friend very much for securing the debate. She talks about the Agriculture Bill. It is really important that, as we move to make sure that we sustainably produce food in an environmentally friendly way, we also produce enough food, really good-quality food, more vegetables, more meat and more milk. As we experience climate change—we are a country that has a climate that can produce food—we must make sure that we can produce enough food in future.”

So why do we build on good quality agricultural land? – Owl

Homes above car parks: answer to housing issue? (and update on the Humphreys case)

“A view” from Paul Arnott in this week’s Exmouth Journal (and sister publications)

Before I get going this week, it is appropriate that I record briefly the fact that East Devon District Council has made an initial response to the news that one of its former Conservative councillors, John Humphreys, was sentenced to 21years in prison a few weeks ago for a number of counts of sexual assault.

The council’s first action was to meet to remove his honorific title as an Alderman. It’s a small but significant start to a council response. However, it is important to record through this column that – in my personal view as Leader of EDDC – this is just the first inch in what will need to be a many mile journey looking into this matter. For legal reasons I cannot pass further comment.

However, it is crucial that it is understood by the public, and in particular the victims, that I have heard very clearly the widely reported comment in one of the victim’s impact statements, that he believed there had been many years inertia in the conviction of Humphreys due to his “political influence”.

That statement is one that in my view cannot be left unexplored. It already is being, and I will ensure that every stone which needs to be overturned to get to the truth will be. I suspect that all the people who voted for me and the kind of administration I lead at EDDC would expect nothing less.

As stated, I cannot pass further comment at this stage, so I must apologise for crashing gears with a complete change of subject. So, and with the nights beginning to shorten, we get into the time of the year which, in my view, sets the agenda for what is possible all the way through to the end of next summer.

For that reason, I wanted to share with readers your district council’s absolute number one priority for that period – somehow we must do all we can to increase the level of housing stock available to local people who are unable to afford the prices of most private sector homes. As we all know, there is a “perfect storm” in our area.

House prices are soaring as the broadband-enabled work-from-home revolution was stimulated even further by the pandemic. We happened to have our own home valued both before the pandemic and then a few months ago and it showed an increase in likely price at sale of more than 20% in eighteen months. This accords with data across most of Devon and Cornwall, and it applies in all sectors of the market.

Meanwhile, compounding the post-Brexit loss from the available labour force in Devon, it has become even more unaffordable than before for people on low-to-middle salaries to live here. It’s not just the challenge to raise the deposit and mortgage to get on the property ladder, it is the almost non-existence of the supply in the rental market if you are not over 60.

So, what is needed now is some radical thinking. As a local authority we need to help find brownfield land, perhaps in EDDC’s own ownership, on which to build. I am aware that I am hurling a cat amongst the pigeons here, but I’ll say it anyway. One part of EDDC’s land assets is its car parks, of which there are many. Now, this would not apply to all of them by any means, but perhaps some. How about we retain the car parking capacity at a ground floor level, but build homes at another two or three levels above? This would provide decent starter homes in central locations of some of our most economically challenged towns. What do you think? Please don’t think for a minute this would be about losing car parking capacity, or that this would be rolled out without huge consultation locally. But if not there, where?

Tories’ approach to councillor checks could fuel hysteria

The Journal’s front page last week highlighted the East Devon Conservatives’ urgent calls for all councillors to be subject to DBS checks, immediately following the news that former Tory councillor John Humphreys had been convicted of serious sexual offences against children.

Cllr Paul Millar

The journalist did his homework and spoke to an experienced employment lawyer who questioned the legal validity of what the Tories were proposing. In the Tories’ press release, they claim that their calls for blanket councillor DBS checks have been ‘ignored by other groups within the council’, when the opposite is the case.

Whilst a Cabinet member I called a meeting with the council’s head of legal on the subject. At the time I knew nothing of the Humphreys investigation but I was being lobbied by colleagues who had local casework specifically involving vulnerable adults in relation to housing and wondered why they weren’t subject to a DBS check.

A report followed with reference to current legislation which remains in force, laid by a Conservative-led government in 2012. It stated that an individual in their capacity as a district councillor could not undertake an enhanced DBS check.

Currently no political party can legally vet their candidates before they are selected which could lead to their election to public office. As I’m sure you’re all thinking, this is a completely unacceptable situation when one considers the trust local people place in their elected representatives and access to their lives to help them deal with sometimes very sensitive issues in an advocacy capacity.

But it is also worth emphasising that a DBS check would never have flagged the crimes of Humphreys before he became a councillor, because they only recently came to light. DBS checks are no silver bullet, sadly. In my past role as an MP’s caseworker, I undertook safeguarding training. For the 45 years the Tories were in power at East Devon District Council, they didn’t manage to establish mandatory safeguarding training for councillors in relation to their activities – the current administration is getting that in place now.

With these facts in mind, and with all councillors having sight of legal advice which has been endorsed by the Local Government Association, I resent the way the Tories are campaigning on this most sensitive of issues, which has the effect of whipping up public hysteria. They do themselves no favours in suggesting it is an issue the present ruling groups are responsible for solving, when it is a Westminster issue. And in that respect, they have much better access to government ministers while the Tories remain in power there.

I believe the Tories know full well that the subject of councillors and DBS checks is not a straightforward one, let alone a matter the current administration can click its fingers and change.

Appropriate and necessary reforms need to be made at Westminster. Had Humphreys been legally subject to a DBS check in 2015 before he became a candidate for that local election, it may have flagged that a police investigation on serious offences had begun. Presuming the Tories didn’t know already about the police investigation, the information may have also prevented the Tory group from selecting him as a candidate or indeed later nominating him for the position of Honorary Alderman.

If I could, I would change the law tomorrow to make being a Ddistrict councillor a ‘regulated activity’ which required enhanced DBS checks being carried out on us all. Any new law would need careful safeguards to prevent the public exposure of minor spent convictions from decades ago on matters unrelated to children and vulnerable adults.

But sadly I am not (yet) Exmouth’s elected Member of Parliament with a vote in the House of Commons and the power to propose new legislation. For now, the MP is Simon Jupp, whose silence on this matter and absence of support for his own EDDC Conservative group colleagues speaks volumes.

This week’s PR disaster – Simon Jupp: “Doomed” by his choice

Why, oh why Simon did you decide to be pictured in your media column this week drinking a pint of Doom alongside “Three Homes” Robert Jenrick? Didn’t Boris tell you he was about to sack him and demote your mentor Dominic Raab? And even if he hadn’t, did you really want to associate yourself with his “build, build, build” algorithm and attitude to “lock-down rules”? 

Why, oh why Simon, do you keep banging the drum for the hospitality trade? Have you forgotten “Eat out to help out” and what it did to supercharge last autumn’s infection wave? Don’t you realise that a very high proportion of your constituents feel vulnerable to the delta variant? Don’t you think you would help the hospitality sector more by arguing for the Government to take a more responsible, less “Gung-Ho”, attitude to Covid so that the general population felt more secure to venture out? 

Why, oh why Simon do you chose the hospitality trade in particular? Recent research noted that whilst hospitality, food and tourism are sources of pride for the region and its flourishing tourism sector, it’s inescapable that they are also sources of low pay and low productivity. Are low pay and productivity what you support?

Lastly, why, oh why Simon, if you must go on a pub crawl to support local business, are you drinking a beer brewed in North Cornwall – Doom – and not something brewed locally, in Devon, such as Otter Bitter!!!!

Doom, it’s all in the optics