Fix public health cuts with a targeted premium, says think-tank

6 Sep 19

Ministers should make extra public health funding available to councils based on demographic factors, a think-tank has suggested. 

A ‘prevention premium’ would be calculated on factors such as unemployment, child poverty, percentage of the population being over 65 and lifestyle factors like smoking, childhood obesity and physical inactivity in adults, a report out today from Localis has said.

It would be paid to local authorities and spent on preventative care, Localis said, and directed towards areas of the country that needed it most.

The payment would work in a similar way to the ‘pupil premium’, which gives additional funds to schools in England to improve the academic outcomes of disadvantaged children, the think-tank added.

Zayn Qureshi, report author and Localis research officer, said:  “This report stresses the need for individuals to take back control over their own health and shows what could be possible by taking a whole-place view – one focused on delivering better health outcomes at local level.

“Where we live and the communities in which we grow up shape who we become, and this has a profound effect on our continual health.

“We must, therefore, help communities to constantly engage in improving their collective health through a radical emphasis on the preventative as a first line of defence.”

People who live in the poorest parts of England live on average 20 years less than those in the least deprived, the report said, and called for it to be recognised the health of a community is “inseparable” from its area’s prosperity.

Localis suggested its idea for a ‘prevention premium’ would help “fully fix cuts to public health funding”. 

Based on current spending plans, a reduction of almost a quarter in spending per person is expected between 2014-15 and 2019-20, according to analysis from the The Health Foundation. The charity has also calculated there will have been a £700m real-terms reduction in the public health grant in that period.

Chief executive Jonathan Werran said: “The Spending Round announcement of a real terms increase in the Public Health grant, helping local authorities continue to provide prevention and public health interventions is clearly a welcome step.

“But funding needs to be restored to 2015 levels as a minimum.”

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