Who’s paying for Britain’s disastrous mini-budget? We are, with our health | Devi Sridhar

From stress about homelessness to illnesses caused by food poverty and cold homes, this financial chaos will take a heavy toll

The British economy has spiralled into chaos: the UK government’s £45bn plan to cut taxes for the super-wealthy has resulted in the pound sinking, interest rates rising, and the Bank of England intervening in an extraordinary way to avert economic collapse. The International Monetary Fund, which usually steps in to ensure stability in middle- and low-income countries, made a rare and critical statement on the danger of the government plan.

Economic policies that increase inequality and make the bulk of the population poorer have grave consequences for health and wellbeing. This is true not just for the lowest earners, but for most of the population including middle-class families. Currently, rising interest rates have increased mortgages while real wages are falling. This will lead to more expensive and increasingly unaffordable housing. The costs of expensive mortgages are passed on to both homeowners and renters, in the form of higher mortgage payments and higher rents. Shelter has highlighted that almost 2.5 million people are behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent – an increase of 45% since April 2022.

Prof Devi Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh

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