Opposition Day Debate: Health Inequalities, House of Commons, 4 March 2020

Sustainable, long-term investment in councils’ public health services is needed if we are to reverse reductions in life expectancy and tackle health inequalities across the country.


Key messages

  • Councils want to work with the Government to close the gap in health inequalities. This can be achieved by focusing on the social causes of ill-health, such as early years development, education and employment opportunities and improving services for older people.
  • Councils understand their communities and are committed to improving their health. Through their services, councils help people live longer, in better conditions, while also improving their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
  • For our part, the LGA supports councils with their public health duties through our sector led improvement work, which provides political and clinical leaders with insight into how effectively the public health system is working and how it can be improved for the benefit of our residents.
  • Within local government, public health is not just part of the remit of the public health team. Almost every local government function has an impact on health, including early years services, education, housing, employment and welfare, social care, leisure and public amenities, environmental health and trading standards and partnerships with the voluntary and community sectors, business and other employers and the NHS.
  • Sustainable, long-term investment in councils’ public health services is needed if we are to reverse reductions in life expectancy and tackle health inequalities across the country.
  • Local authorities’ public health grant funding has reduced by over £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20. We have long argued that these reductions are a false economy, which only compound acute pressures for NHS and social care services further down the line.
  • At the time of writing, the Government is yet to publish the Public Health Grant for 2020/21. This delay is making it extremely difficult for councils to plan effectively, and the LGA is calling on Government to provide urgent clarity on this.
  • The immediate priority must be to sustain the here and now and counter some of the serious immediate challenges that are apparent across the system. We should lay the groundwork for delivering a prevention focused health and wellbeing system that we know could be better.

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