Responding to 'The Marmot Review 10 years on'

25 February 2020

Welcoming today’s report, Steven Baxter, Head of Longevity Research at Club Vita, comments:

“The first Marmot Review was a landmark report. This 10 year follow-up is equally important, making a number of crucial recommendations for “levelling-up” health outcomes in the UK.”

Mark Sharkey, Engagement Lead at Club Vita, responds to the findings of the Marmot review published today:

Commenting on the trends in life expectancy…

"A decade on from the original Marmot review, it continues to hold that the more favoured people are, socially and economically, the better their health on average. Today’s “Health Equity in England: Marmot Review 10 Years On” highlights how this gap has materially widened over the last decade. At Club Vita we have been seeing a similar, concerning, pattern: the more economically comfortable pensioners in the UK have continued to see life expectancy rise over the past decade whilst their more deprived counterparts have seen minimal increases.

"The report also highlights the postcode lottery of healthy equity. For those living in the most deprived neighbourhoods of the UK it matters where that neighbourhood is. Over the last decade life expectancy has increased in the most deprived areas of London, yet in the North East and Yorkshire life expectancy fell. Within Club Vita’s data we see differences between regions which have deeper rooted effects than can be explained by standard measures of individual socio-economic position and neighbourhood deprivation. We welcome the wide ranging recommendations to address the nation’s health inequity.

Commenting on the implications for state pensions…

"Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s research highlights the challenge of linking state pension age to life expectancy. For many decades life expectancy rose steadily rose without any equivalent increase in state pension age. A need to “balance the books” led to legislation linking future rises in state pension age to changes in life expectancy. But, what happens when the life expectancy stalls or even decreases? Do we continue to increase state pension age or leave it untouched?  This decision is harder when we have widening inequalities in life expectancy, as those most reliant on the state pension are liable to also be the shortest lived.  It is crucial to address the health inequalities identified at source. Otherwise we risk that our attempt to plug a leak in state pension funding is thwarted by the increased welfare payments made to the most disadvantaged during the period when they are awaiting state pension.

Commenting on the implications for DB pension schemes…

"This report focusses on the huge social disparities in life expectancy. It is a reminder for those responsible for DB pension schemes to the flaw of relying on headline population wide trends. This is what many pension schemes are doing by virtue of adopting an unadjusted version of the “CMI model”.  For most schemes the lion’s share of scheme liabilities (and therefore risk) lies with the most affluent individuals. It is these individual who have been repeated shown to be most resilient to the recent stalling in national life expectancy. Failing to reflect the socioeconomic landscape of the scheme membership risks underestimating the cost of providing benefits."

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