Tower Hamlets Losing Out on Public Health Funds, Labour reveals

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Labour Councillor Lesley Pavitt has condemned the government for actively increasing health inequalities after new figures revealed that many deprived areas will receive far less funding for public health than more affluent areas – despite higher levels of deprivation and lower life expectancy.

For example, Tower hamlets is set to receive £113 in public health grant per person. Meanwhile in Kensington and Chelsea – where both men and women are expected to live 8.4 years longer than in Tower Hamlets – the grant is £130 per person. The money comes from the Department of Health and is for local councils to promote healthy living and prevent illness.

Despite the gains made in the last decade, there is still much more to do on public health: smoking kills 80,000 people a year, alcohol over 6,500 and around one in four adults are obese. What’s more, the evidence is clear that public health problems are closely linked to poverty. It’s known, for example, that deprived children are nearly twice as likely to be obese as the least deprived. Local Councillor Lesley Pavitt is calling on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to look again at the allocations and abide by his Department’s own aim of reducing inequalities in life expectancy between areas.

Labour’s deputy spokesperson for Adults Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Lesley Pavitt, said:

“People in Tower Hamlets will find it hard to believe that Kensington and Chelsea, home to some of the richest people in the country, is due to get 13% more funding per person for public health initiatives than Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in the country.

“The evidence is clear that public health problems are closely linked to poverty, but these latest figures show that Ministers have refused to listen to the evidence and have channelled funding to councils with wealth, healthy populations at the expense of areas like ours.

“If the government is serious about reducing health inequalities rather than making them worse, Ministers must change tack and give Tower Hamlets a fair deal on public health funding.”

Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, said:

“The Government has taken the decision to provide lower public health funding per person in deprived areas such as Tower Hamlets than in more affluent areas such as Kensington and Chelsea. This will damage the ability of local healthcare providers to meet people’s health needs in deprived areas and could further increase health inequalities. I raised these concerns in Parliament during the debate on the Health and Social Care Bill in 2011. I am appalled that the Government is taking this course of action and it shows that you cannot trust the Tories with the NHS.”

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