Tipping the scales: Exploring austerity and public health in the UK
This report is part of a series of country profiles outlining the
situation of public health in four key countries particularly
impacted by the fallout from the financial crisis. The series is a
follow-on from the ILC report Public health in Europe during the
austerity years, which explored the link between health
outcomes and austerity across Europe. Focusing on the
situation in the UK, Greece, Spain, and Ireland this series
explores the economy and public health of each country
during the austerity years.
As the second largest economy in Europe and a major centre
of finance, the UK was heavily afflicted by the financial crisis.
In 2010, the incoming Coalition Government adopted austerity
measures as a means of controlling the escalating budget
This report finds that the percentage of the population
reporting good health fell significantly during the austerity
Health spending in the UK was protected from severe
budgetary cuts during the austerity years. In fact, health
spending per head was 26% higher in 2015 than it was in 2010.
Although the National Health Service (NHS) managed to avoid
significant budget reduction, cuts in other areas of social
spending indirectly affected public health in the UK.
For example, cuts in social care and housing spending are
likely to have a negative impact on health outcomes for
individuals as well as increase long term pressures on the
Whilst short term trends in mortality rates in the UK seem
unaffected by the recession or adoption of austerity policies,
the reality is that the full impact of these trends may not be
seen for many more years.
Financial support for the development of this report was
provided as a charitable donation from Pfizer.