Improvements in mortality in England were seen for a generation before the year 2011. They now appear to have ended. On May 4th 2017 the Financial Times reported that the actuaries who determine what future pension payments might need to be, have estimated that £310 billion less will be paid out in UK pensions in the future. This is just from a minority of pensions.

People are expected to live many years less in future than had previously been estimated. Across all of Europe the UK is the only country to have seen no improvement in life expectancy between 2011 and 2015 (the latest year for which comparable European data is available).

Austerity and cuts to health and social services are some of the most obvious reasons for the increased mortality that has already occurred among the elderly in the UK, as well as the projected higher mortality to come for many middle-aged people. High pensioner poverty levels, which have not improved since 2011, is also a very likely culprit. Why should a country that has seen no fall in the proportion of its pensioners living in poverty since 2011 expect to see life expectancy continue to improve?

As the Financial Times reporters explain. It is poorer pensioners who have been harmed the most so far. Private pension scheme members have been somewhat insulated from mortality trends in the wider population. Nevertheless they are also now expected to live shorter lives in future, £310bn shorter.

These new data show that under David Cameron and Theresa May previous falls in mortality rates have come to an end; progress is at its worst since the end of the Second World War. And so far the response from policy makers has been non-existent.

Read more about the stalling and falling life expectancy in an editorial published this week in the BMJ here

The Figure below and a free PDF of the book it is from can be found here

Public Spending in proportion to GDP in twelve rich countries

Public Spending in proportion to GDP in twelve rich countries