JRF responds to ONS figures on coronavirus in deprived areas

Responding to figures from the ONS showing that age-standardised mortality rate of deaths involving COVID-19 in the most deprived areas of England was 55.1 deaths per 100,000 population compared with 25.3 deaths per 100,000 population in the least deprived areas.

Helen Barnard, Acting Director, Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:

“As a country we believe in protecting each other from harm, and this is especially apparent when we see people willingly disrupting their lives to abide by the current restrictions. But even before coronavirus there were signs that our record on tackling poverty and health inequalities was unravelling. It can never be right that someone's life chances are so profoundly affected by where they live or how much money their family has.

“It’s crucial that all aspects of the spread of this virus are carefully examined, but we know that people in more deprived areas are less likely to have jobs where they can work from home. This means they may have to face a very significant drop in income or keep going to work, facing greater risks of catching the virus. They are also more likely to live in overcrowded homes, increasing the risk for whole families. This just is not right.

“As well as dealing with the current crisis, it is vital to break the grip of poverty on the health of the nation in the long term. This means rethinking how we treat the lowest paid members of our society who have sustained us and kept us safe during this crisis. By doing so, we can help end the spiral of low income and poor health which may have had especially tragic consequences during this pandemic.”