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Health Inequalities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:41 pm on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Feryal Clark Feryal Clark Labour, Enfield North 6:41 pm, 4th March 2020

I am proud to represent Enfield North, which is a key part of one of the fastest growing London boroughs and, like so many communities across London and the UK, it is a borough that is changing rapidly. The core funding Enfield Council receives from the Tory Government has been cut by an average of £800 per household since 2010, with hard-working Labour councillors having to find an extra £30 million this coming year. The impact that these swingeing, relentless cuts have had on our frontline services cannot be understated.

As I have said previously, I am pleased with the work that Enfield Council is doing to tackle health inequalities, but every single one of us across this House knows that the relentless attacks on local government have meant that its efforts provide only vital sticking plasters to the gross inequality that this Government have caused. People working in local government actually want to work with the Government to tackle the problems that we are talking about today. I pay tribute to the work of the Local Government Association in consistently raising the challenges that our councillors are facing.

The LGA rightly underlined that, when it comes to public health issues, almost every single function of local government has an impact on outcomes for local people. I wish to pay tribute to the work of Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission for shining a light on this issue earlier this year, as part of its “All things being equal” report. The report made for difficult reading: 20,000 people living with unmet health needs; more than 15,000 people not registered with a local GP; and women living for up to 20 years in poor health. Why are we seeing damaging trends such as this? It is because injustice breeds inequality. I ask the Minister today: why is it that residents in Enfield have less than half the public health funding per head compared with other London boroughs; why is it that 30% of children across our borough live in poverty; and why is it that only two thirds of people across our borough live in good health? We have to be honest about why this situation has developed and why many of the communities that I represent remain stuck in this vicious cycle. It is because the Government have wilfully neglected the changing needs of communities such as mine over the past 10 years. The failure to give us the funding and resources that people in Enfield need and deserve have damaged people’s life chances and pushed our public health progress backwards. It is time now for a step change. It is time that the Tories invested in the health of people across Enfield North.