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Health Overview

The relationships between work / or unemployment, poverty and health, have been well documented. The Scottish Government's approach through 'Achieving our Potential' Scotland's Anti Poverty Strategy and the Equally Well Framework recognises that to reduce inequalities in health and wellbeing it is necessary to develop interventions which target the underlying causes, of which poverty and deprivation are central.

Unemployment is associated with a higher risk of death and increased mental health problems. Job insecurity is also damaging to health, and has been linked to higher rates of hospital admissions, increases in heart disease and deterioration in mental health. In addition to these quantified relationships between poverty and health, the presence or absence of employment has a range of consequences for people's lives, materially, socially and psychologically.

Latest figures have shown that male life expectancy in the 10% most deprived areas in Scotland is 13.5 years lower than male life expectancy in the 10% least deprived areas. For females, the gap in life expectancy between the most and least deprived is 9.1 years (General Register Office for Scotland 2010).

For those in employment, work provides fulfillment and offers individuals a degree of control over decisions that bring benefits to health. In addition research has shown that:

  • Ill-health in the working age population has been estimated to cost the British economy £100 billion a year in lost productivity, lost tax and health and welfare costs (CBI).
  • Work is, for most people , good for long term health outcomes.
  • Partnership working needs to be developed and supported between local health and employability services

For those out of work and or living in a low income household the 2008 Scottish Health Survey found that:

  • Low household income was significantly associated with poor self-assessed health for both men and women
  • The odds of those in the most deprived sections of society having poor self-assessed health were 8.03 times higher for men and 2.50 times higher for women than those in the least deprived
  • Disabled people's income is, on average, less than half of that of people who are not disabled
  • Households containing at least one person with a limiting long term condition are twice as likely to have an income of less than £15,000 p.a. than households where nobody has a limiting long term condition
  • Across the UK, adults in the poorest fifth of the population are twice as likely to be at risk of developing mental illness as those on average incomes
  • People with mental health problems are three times more likely to be in debt and less than a quarter of adults with a long-term mental health problem are in employment - the lowest rate amongst disabled people.