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Labour’s Record on Health (1997-2010)

Author: Polly Vizard, London School of Economics and Political Science

This set of reports are designed to examine the effects of the major economic and political changes in the UK since 2007, particularly their impact on the distribution of wealth, poverty, inequality and social mobility.

The analysis includes policies and spending decisions from the last Labour government, including the beginning of the financial crisis. There are five individual papers covering health, education, children under five, taxes and benefits and neighbourhood renewal. There is also an overview Labour’s Social Policy Record: Policy, Spending and Outcomes: 1997-2010, which can be found here.The main findings show:

  • Labour set out an ambitious agenda to raise outcomes overall, narrow socio-economic gaps and modernise public services.
  • Public spending went up by 60 per cent and from 39.5 to 47.4 per cent of GDP. This was a large rise but the UK started from a low point. Until the crisis hit after 2008, spending levels were unexceptional by historic UK and international standards.
  • The extra spending went mainly on services. Health and education both increased as a proportion of all public spending. There were new hospitals, schools, equipment and ICT, 48,000 new programmes aimed at neighbourhood renewal.
  • Nearly all the extra cash Labour spent on benefits went on children and pensioners. Benefits for working age people unrelated to having children fell as a proportion of GDP.

  • Access and quality in public services improved.Waiting times for health services fell. Pupil teacher ratios improved. Young children had greater access to early years education. Poor neighbourhoods had better facilities and less crime and vacant housing.
  • Outcomes improved and gaps closed on virtually all the socio-economic indicators Labour targeted, such as poverty for children and pensioners and school attainment. However gaps remained large. In health some indicators improved although efforts to tackle health inequalities had mixed results.
  • On some key things Labour did not explicitly target, there was no progress. Poverty for working age people without children rose. There was no real change in levels of income inequality. Wage inequalities grew and disparities in regional economic performance persisted.

We published a further set of reports in January 2015 on the Coalition’s record 2010-2015. The full breadth of research, including analysis of the Coalition’s social policy record, can be found here


01 July 2013

Labour’s Record on Health (1997-2010)