Responding to the COVID-19 Marmot Review

Responding to the COVID-19 Marmot Review, which has investigated how the pandemic has affected health inequalities in Greater Manchester.

2 July 2021

Responding to the COVID-19 Marmot Review, which has investigated how the pandemic has affected health inequalities in Greater Manchester, Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, said:

“This report shows how COVID-19 has exposed and amplified inequalities of health and wealth in our communities, no more so than in West Yorkshire. Although the report centres on Greater Manchester, its findings will be recognised by many people in our own region. We must now do things differently if we are to create a society and economy that works for us all and has people’s health and wellbeing at the heart of it.

It is simply unacceptable that people on the lowest incomes been left exposed to the ravages of the pandemic. A decade of austerity has stripped public services to the bone, poked holes in our social security safety net, and left our NHS underfunded. That statutory sick pay remains at such a low a level that does not allow people to effectively self-isolate is nothing short of a scandal. Government tried to keep it quiet that the furlough scheme could be used to help. And why? Because a penny-pinching treasury feared the spending might become permanent.

So, as we begin to heal from the pandemic, the Chancellor must listen and commit to prioritising people’s health before paying back debt.

I was elected on a commitment to build a fairer, more inclusive economy, delivering good quality jobs, helping young people into work, and investing in skills and training.

We are already using the funding and powers from devolution to support more jobs and opportunities for those who have been worst impacted by the pandemic. Only this week I have promised to put in place a Fair Work Charter, which will close the inequality gaps for people in West Yorkshire and ensure a fairer society with fewer divisions and disparities. In the same meeting, £500, 000 was also pledged to the creative industries, as I know just how important the cultural sector is for people’s wellbeing and health.

As the Marmot review shows, the pandemic has had a huge impact on our young people, especially in terms of unemployment and the poor mental health. Here in West Yorkshire, out-of-work benefit claims for those aged between 16-24 had increased by 116% in May 2021 compared with January 2020. If we are ever to truly to recover from the pandemic and ensure the younger generation can reclaim what they’ve lost over the past 15 months, then we have to invest in their futures.

Anne Longfield, the former Children’s Commissioner, recently called for a “Nightingale moment”. This phrase invokes the colossal effort that was put into creating the Nightingale hospitals during the first wave of the pandemic back in 2020, and very rightly calls for a focussed effort on our young people from Government. This is also why my pledge to create 1000 green and skilled jobs for young people across West Yorkshire is so important. I will continue to prioritise young people’s needs as we recover from COVID-19.

But if government are truly committed to levelling up, they must help us to go further. Across the North of England, we know all too well about the disparities in investment and wealth, and it is my mission to close the gaps that are felt so strongly between different communities at every level of our society. We need genuine and tangible structural change.

There are no quick fixes. We need long-term solutions from a regional level, as we are the ones that know our communities best and understand what matters to them most. As well as the urgent renewal of ‘hard’ infrastructure such as our creaking transport system, we also need much more government investment in things like skills, education and training which can help unlock talent and drive the inclusive economic recovery our region needs.

As a Mayor who stood on a manifesto of inclusivity, diversity and equality, this report and findings are a matter of personal importance to me. I will appoint an inclusivity champion, who will work with me and colleagues to bridge the deep gaps between different groups within our region. Together, we will create a fairer society where under-represented groups and individuals do not miss out and their voices are heard.”

  1. Mayoral Pledges

    My pledges are rooted in the region and have been made with you in mind. I know that I can use the opportunities the West Yorkshire Mayor has to make our communities the best to grow up in, and the best to grow old in.

    Read more about Mayoral Pledges
  2. A Mayoral Combined Authority

    On 9 May Tracy Brabin was elected the first Mayor of West Yorkshire. With specific powers on transport, housing, regeneration, finance and policing, the Mayor will work with the Mayoral Combined Authority, council leaders, business representatives and partners for the benefit of the region.

    Read more about A Mayoral Combined Authority