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Our response to government's Levelling Up White Paper

Yesterday, the UK Government published the Levelling Up White Paper; a document setting out their plans to tackle the country's health and economic disparities. We welcome some of the plans in the White Paper, but think the government must go further to address the stark inequalities in the prevalence of diabetes and in the treatment of people living with diabetes.

This White Paper is important for people living with diabetes, and those at risk of type 2 diabetes, because we know that those in the lowest income households are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to people in the most affluent households. We also know that people living in the most deprived areas are less likely to receive the care and treatment they need and are less likely to access to life-enhancing diabetes technology.

There are welcome ambitions set out in the White Paper to reduce the gap in healthy life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas (the number of years people are expected to be in good health and feeling well in their lives). Currently, the healthy life expectancy is age 52 in the most deprived areas of the country, compared with age 70 in the most affluent.  

There are also welcome plans set out in the Paper to implement some of the recommendations from Henry Dimbleby’s independent review on a National Food Strategy for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which was published in 2021.

Tackling poverty directly to reduce inequalities

However, we're disappointed that the Paper doesn’t contain new policies on wages, social security and the cost of living that would tackle poverty at the earliest possible stage. We know that tackling poverty will reduce the inequalities we see in diabetes prevalence, care and treatment outcomes. We look forward to the White Paper on Health Disparities being published and hope to work with the UK Government to ensure that prevention and ensuring that everyone at risk of or living with diabetes gets the treatment they need are at its core.

Bridget Turner, our Director of Policy, Campaigns and Improvement, said:

“Levelling up living standards is essential to enable people to live healthier lives and reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s not acceptable that the greatest burden of diabetes, and the harm the condition can cause, falls on our least affluent communities. In England, the prevalence of diabetes is over twice as high for people living in the lowest income households compared to those with the highest incomes.                 

“While we welcome the proposals published in the Levelling Up White Paper, including the commitments to reduce the gap in healthy life expectancy and implement some of the recommendations from Henry Dimbleby’s review towards a National Food Strategy, the Government must go further and work faster to solve the root causes of poverty. Addressing this is also crucial to reducing the growing number of people in deprived areas living with overweight and obesity.

“The Government must urgently bring forward the White Paper on Health Disparities. This must include a cross-government strategy that focuses on addressing the social determinants of health – that is, the conditions in which we live, grow and work – to improve the worsening health inequalities being experienced by our poorest communities. This is essential if we are to turn the tide of rising numbers of people living with type 2 diabetes.”

 

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