Life expectancy declined in parts of the North over past decade

Areas across England’s northern regions have experienced a fall in average life expectancy over the last ten years, a new Imperial College London study suggests.

The study, published in the Lancet journal, found marked regional variation, with a life expectancy gap of 27 years between a man living in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, compared to Blackpool in the North West.

While the Covid-19 pandemic did contribute to recent decreases, the study indicates that the drop pre-dated 2020 in many areas.

These new figures come amid the government’s promise to ‘level-up’ areas of the UK, including Northern England, where post-industrial decline has left many areas with a dearth of socioeconomic opportunities.

The study calculated life expectancies across communities by examining their death records between 2002 and 2019.

It found that while life expectancy rose in most places from 2002 to 2009,it began to decline in some areas from 2010.

Life expectancy fell across numerous urban communities in Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool, where life expectancy was below 70 for men and 75 for women, while it continued to increase across many parts of London and the home counties.

According to ONS estimates, the UK’s average life expectancy is 79 years for men and slightly under 83 years for women.