Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 28 February 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

28 February 2020


Dear colleagues,

What has happened to the health of people in Britain?

For over 90 years, our years of healthy life have increased by 23 years. In 2011 the ongoing growth stopped, and in some areas, life expectancy has gone backwards. In countries with already longer life expectancies, the improvement has continued apace. If we were at the average, we would have four more healthy years each.

Sir Michael Marmot did a review with the Institute of Health Equity, investigating what has gone wrong to cause the halted increase and what needs to be done to improve it. Last week, exactly 10 years on, he published a report of progress. Sadly, things have got worse!

Health is closely linked to the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, and work, as well as inequalities of power, money and resources, and other social determinants. So, people in deprived areas tend to be more unhealthy and have shorter lives. If we can improve the outlook here, then we can improve the overall picture dramatically. We already knew this and have worked hard on improving life in those areas, but we have not beaten the tide in all areas.

The evidence has built up but the national government has not yet prioritised health inequalities, nor produced a strategy, despite the visible costs of getting it wrong.

Evidenced in the report are cuts in public spending on local services since 2010, that are widespread and deepest in the most needy areas. (As a percentage of GDP, public services dropped by 7 per cent in 10 years to 2019, from 42 to 35 per cent overall, and dropped by 77 per cent in local government.)

The Government’s “levelling up” must include health inequalities. Here is the evidenced formula for success which is right on the button for local councils:

  • Give every child the best start in life.
  • Enable all children, young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have control over their lives.
  • Create fair employment and good work for all.
  • Ensure a healthy standard of living for all.
  • Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities.
  • Strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention.

The recommendations are based on evidence presented in the report. One item in particular was picked up with me by one of our Vice Presidents, Baroness Bennett, last week. That is having a “breadline”, a basic minimum healthy standard of living for all. “Ensure everyone has a minimum income for healthy living through increases to the National Living Wage and redesign of Universal Credit.” Although this may sound “a bit left”, it does fit with making sure people can thrive and make a solid contribution to our communities.

Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On contains a lot of evidence that you may want to use to help your council get the best for our communities. It is an important document, well respected. If you get a moment, please have a look and let us know what you think.

The LGA is liaising with Public Health England, the Department for Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government regarding the evolving situation with the outbreak of the Coronavirus. For more information, visit the web page Coronavirus: information for councils.

Best wishes in all you are doing and I look forward to hearing from you or seeing you soon at the East Midlands Regional Event on 6 March 2020 at White Hart Hotel, Bailgate, Lincoln LN1 3AR from 11am to 3pm. Hope you can join us!

Kind regards,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature
Councillor Marianne Overton MBE

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Leader of the Independent Group
Vice Chair of the Local Government Association

Dates for the diary

LGA county lines conference
Nottingham, 24 March 2020

An all-day conference, free to all councils

LGA county lines masterclass
London, 31 
March 2020
LGA's one-day training course for elected members to learn about tackling county lines and wider criminal exploitation.

If you would like further information about these events or book a place, please contact