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Poverty, Poverty, Knock

I have followed Professor Marmot’s publications in reverence as he details and analyses the relationship between wealth, inequality and well-being and life expectancy. It seems to me that health and well-being and death rates are the hardest measures we have of how well we are caring for each other in these years of privilege – brilliant new understandings of biology and pathology – extraordinary equipment that allows us to communicate, to research the past to learn from – and to gather wisdom from every corner of the world.

What a judgement it is to know that these measures are showing deterioration in our performance. It is clear that the poorest sectors of societies are already suffering and will suffer more as consequence of covid, the risen costs of fuel and foods, the environment crisis and the altered relationship with other countries in Europe.

There have been fierce to frantic exchanges in the newspapers and other commentaries on the impact of these trends on older people and especially those who are less able, including those with dementia, and their families. Despite the words, I am not sure I am clear what is happening and will happen.

It is clear that we, older people, will find life harder, along with everyone else. There has been a strong lobby in recent years representing older people as rather well off compared with young people who are struggling with the cost of living, especially housing. The Triple Lock has meant that we are kept ahead of costs – or at least enabled to keep up with them. There have been threats to say that the Triple Lock will be unlocked to help with the need for the nation to cope with current financial challenges – especially relating to covid and the need to rebuild services of all sorts. It seems that the Triple Lock will be retained, and that is surely a right thing to do and will help us all.

The crisis and costs associated with the World Wars was followed by the adoption of schemes for the people of this and other countries to work together for the common good. These schemes were spectacularly successful. The learning from this has to be that we look at what we are doing now – largely informed by individual greed and self-promotion – and change as soon as possible to share what we have. We know this will be effective.

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