Government neglect of those in need has deepened the UK's Covid crisis | Polly Toynbee

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Our shocking death rate has its roots in the inequality caused by a decade of austerity

When the great reckoning is made as to why Britain did so badly in Covid-19 infections and deaths, the grand inquisitors will point to the threadbare NHS and public services, to crippled councils and civil service capacity. But inequality will bear much of the blame: the infection spread more easily among the people least able to protect themselves – and until everyone is protected, no one is.

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That’s the price we pay for the political choices this country has made time and again. The same rightwing Tory MPs who are outraged at lockdowns have spent decades deliberately impoverishing people by blocking higher pay, fairer chances, good social housing and decent social security. Longer lockdowns may be a payback for social neglect.

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