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Addressing health inequalities at local level

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"When people are unemployed, people can just assume that they are unemployable, and that is not ever the case. We take people onto a work placement and they do deliver for us an element of work. We do want to enable individuals to enter back into the world of work and contribute into their own lives as well as into society and the environment in which they live. Having worked for six months does enable them to demonstrate that they are capable of coming to work and doing what is requested of them. I think sometimes that is the biggest obstacle.”

The quote above is from Toni Askew, Work Manager at Wakefield and District Housing. It is not a one-off as this type of action is taking place up and down the country.

We've published a series of new resources designed to support local action like this, which helps people with the greatest need to have better health.

Reducing health inequalities is at the heart of PHE’s mission. We understand that the social determinants of health inequalities are often deep rooted and complex and we want to support the system to understand the practical things that can make a difference.

The Marmot Review, published in 2010, set out evidence for action across the wider determinants of health to reduce health inequalities.  To help turn the Marmot recommendations into practical actions, in September 2014 we published our first series of evidence papers on the issue.

Now, we are continuing our commitment to support local action on health inequalities with new Practice Resource papers that include evidence, information and tips on approaches that local partnerships can adopt on four topic areas:

  1. Opportunities for using social value act  to reduce health inequalities in England
  2. Promoting good quality jobs to reduce health inequalities
  3. Reducing social isolation across the life course
  4. Improving health literacy to reduce health inequalities

The new papers on using the Social Value Act and on promoting good quality jobs demonstrate the opportunities at local level to improve economic conditions, employment and standards of living - all structural determinants of health and wellbeing.

The Social Value Act is an important potential lever that public services can use to create social value through the money they spend. The Act, which came into force in January 2013, requires all public sector commissioners to consider how they could improve the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of their population through their procurement activities.

This legal requirement creates opportunities to use local and national commissioning to improve health and reduce health inequalities, through action on the social determinants of health. Improving structural influences on health, such as work opportunities for unemployed people or providing housing, is well linked to improving social value in local areas.

The conditions in which we work – the quality of our jobs, our income and hierarchy - can also have a substantial impact on our health and wellbeing.

The features of good quality work which promote health include adequate pay, protection from physical hazards, and job security but they are less common among people in more disadvantaged socio-economic groups.

Our new practice resource on Promoting good quality jobs to reduce health inequalities demonstrates the opportunities for local partnerships to promote better jobs, support better health and help reduce health inequalities in their communities.

But the action we need is not just about local policy or strategy, it’s also about focusing on practical actions that can empower people and communities.

I found that the stories in our new written and video case studies powerfully demonstrate the opportunities for local partnerships to make a difference to people’s lives – to help people more into employment, reduce social isolation, and build their capacity to improve their own health and wellbeing.


‘Housing has a role to play in promoting positive lifestyle changes. Our Health and Wellbeing project has recently evidenced that additional support from our Health and Wellbeing Team has resulted in a reduced use of NHS service.’
Benjamin Webb, Health and Wellbeing Team manager, Family Mosaic

We encourage local authorities and our local partners to use these resources; to watch the videos and to engage in this discussion on how to reduce health inequalities locally.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Lorraine posted on

    I believe every borough should support their residents.Instead of spending money on unnessary projects that cost millions and of no use to the community .it is a wonderful feeling ,knowing that there is an organisation, or other establishment out there to support others when it's needed most .