LIFE expectancy in Scotland has fallen for the third year in a row to levels last seen around a decade ago, new figures have revealed.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) data shows male life expectancy was 76.52 years in the period 2020-22, compared to 2010-12 when it stood at 76.51.

Meanwhile, life expectancy for women was 80.73 years in 2020-22. Back in 2010-12 the value was only slightly higher at 80.75.

It is also the third period in a row that life expectancy has fallen in Scotland from the most recent highs of 77.1 for men and 81.1 for women in the years 2017-2019.

READ MORE: Warning UK cost of living crisis will cause rise in premature deaths

Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane claimed the statistics had “Humza Yousaf’s fingerprints all over them” and SNP ministers could not “hide” behind the excuse of covid as life expectancy had already begun to start falling in Scotland before the pandemic.

But Dr David Walsh, public health programme manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, said there was a mass of evidence that austerity – which was imposed by the Tories – is responsible for the stalling of improvements in life expectancy.

Hover over the map to find out the figures in your area - the darker the colour, the higher the life expectancy 

He said the latest figures covered two peak years of the pandemic covid, which had been expected to impact on life expectancy, but there were already concerning trends in life expectancy.

“Around 2012 life expectancy stopped going up across the UK, but that overall stalling of improvement was masking the fact it was actually going into reverse in the poorest areas of Scotland, the poorest areas of England, of Northern Ireland and Wales,” he said.

“There is now a mass of evidence that has attributed that to the effects of austerity in terms of the cuts to the income of the poorest and most vulnerable, through social security cuts and also through the loss of all the vital public services, that was the other side of austerity.

“We knew that life expectancy would go down overall with covid, but the question really is when the data comes out which doesn’t include the covid years, is to see where it is there - because the big fear is it has gone back to its pre-covid trends which were already appalling.”

He added: “On top of 13 years of austerity, we have also got the pandemic, we have also got the cost of living crisis.

“This is all about the relationship between income and health, and austerity has had an absolutely abysmal effect, covid has obviously had another effect on top of that - but we have got this current issue around high levels of inflation so it’s quite a grim picture at the moment I’m afraid.”

READ MORE: Glasgow parents join campaigners to back LEZ and slam 'toxic' air

Age Scotland’s head of policy and communications, Adam Stachura, said the figures were a cause for concern.

“The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on life expectancy, with older people most at risk, but these figures were already stalling in the years leading up to the pandemic,” he said.

“Factors linked to poverty may contribute to a further reduction in life expectancy in the future, such as the number of people struggling to heat their homes to a comfortable level and the increasing cost of essentials such as food.

“Given the devastating link between income levels and overall life expectancy and the difficulty many people experience when accessing healthcare and social care, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how this trend can be reversed without first addressing these underlying issues.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It remains an unwelcome reality that communities experience health, quality of life and even life expectancy differently across society and the Scottish Government continues to take action to reduce such inequalities in health.

“We work closely with Public Health Scotland and National Records of Scotland to analyse a broad range of data and better understand causes of death and any implications for public health. We are targeting our actions to areas and communities most in need in order to ensure equity in our approach.”