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Monday 15 September 2014
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Inequalities blamed for mass "premature" deaths

The wealth gap is being held accountable for people in England dying "prematurely" and losing up to 2.5 million years of life in a new report.

Although life expectancy has improved for the worst off by 2.9 years in the last decade, more needs to be done, according to the leader of the government-ordered review Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

The gap between the lifestyles of the rich and poor is named as a major contributory factor to the "premature" deaths in the report.

"Reducing health inequalities is a matter of fairness and social justice," the report said. "In England, the many people who are currently dying prematurely each year as a result of health inequalities would otherwise have enjoyed, in total, between 1.3 and 2.5 million extra years of life."

An overhaul of the income tax system was recommended in the report, which targeted action in six key area, including creating fair employment, encouraging people into work, giving everyone the best start in life and working to prevent people falling ill in the first place.

The report calls for parents to be put on paid leave for the first year of a child's life, with a mother taking the first six months and the father the second.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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