The continued effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, is affecting on people’s general wellbeing in the UK, with ethnic minorities bearing the brunt of the impact, according to LifeSearch.
According to LifeSearch’s Health, Wealth & Happiness 2022 Index Britons’ happiness has been impacted the hardest in the recent year, plummeting to its lowest point in the last decade in 2021 and then decreasing again in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022. In comparison, the nation’s health improved the most in the Index, rising by 19 per cent in Q1 2022 compared to the previous quarter.
Although the Health Index increased in the first quarter of 2022, it is still not back to pre-pandemic levels, according to LifeSearch. The proportion of the workforce suffering from long-term health difficulties is on the rise, rising to 34 per cent in Q4 2021 from 30.1 per cent in Q4 2016. Just over half of all Britons believe the Covid epidemic has harmed their access to healthcare, with 57 per cent of women and 62 per cent of those aged 55 and over believing so. While it is slightly lower, around 49 per cent, across all ethnic minorities, it is significantly higher, nearly 55 per cent, among Pakistani/Bangladeshi Brits.
Almost half or 51 per cent of Britons say the Covid epidemic has had a negative influence on their mental health, with women and younger people accounting for 50 per cent of the total. The impact is much greater, at roughly 52 per cent, among people from ethnic minority groups; it is even higher among women in this population, at around 58 per cent, and among Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic groupings it is 59 per cent – compared to 46 per cent of white British people.
The LifeSearch Wealth Index increased by 11 per cent in 2021 over the previous year, thanks to the economy’s gradual reopening beginning in April 2021. But rising inflation and energy prices contributed to an 8 per cent drop in Britons’ estimates of their wealth by Q1 2022. In fact, LifeSearch discovered that, despite the fact that inflation is at a 30-year high, only 8 per cent of all Britons expect to be financially worse off this year.
The LifeSearch Happiness Index recorded its lowest reading in ten years in 2021, down even from 2020 levels and with no obvious uptick during England’s Euro 2021 campaign. In Q1 2022, happiness fell again, owing to the Ukraine conflict and increased living costs. According to LifeSearch consumer insights, a quarter of all Britons are less pleased than they were last year, with the number jumping to 31 per cent for those living alone and 28 per cent for ethnic minorities, with the number rising to 37 per cent for those of Indian descent. But 28 per cent of Britons are happier than last year, and 2021 is a significant increase over a year ago when 46 per cent of Britons said they were unhappy.
LifeSearch chief executive Debbie Kennedy says: “While there may be a sense that after two long years the worst of the pandemic is behind us, the nation’s health, wealth and happiness is still not close to being back to levels seen pre-Covid. In fact, our happiness is at a record low, mental health issues remain high and the energy crisis, inflation and conflict in Ukraine point at another chapter of uncertainty.
“At a more granular level, our study reveals the pandemic pressures and consequences faced specifically by people in ethnic minority communities, where many have been hit harder over the last two years and the ripple effect may continue much longer. Many in those communities feel they’ve had to work harder, dig deeper and risk more to stay afloat.”
Race Equality Foundation CEO Jabeer Butt OBE says: “Across education, finances and general happiness, it’s clear ethnic minorities are suffering. These major findings reflect our own knowledge that Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities continue to bear the brunt of the effects of the pandemic and cost of living crisis. We urgently need targeted support to take account of and effectively address these unequal impacts if we want to see a healthier, wealthier and happier Britain in the coming years.”
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