Health Inequalities: Office for Health Improvement and Disparities — [Derek Twigg in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:07 pm on 26th January 2022.

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Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 4:07 pm, 26th January 2022

If I may, I will write to the hon. Lady on that so I can make sure that my facts are completely clear, rather than giving her an answer that may not be quite accurate.

In recognition of the strong relationship between work and health, the joint work and health unit was established in 2015. It has invested in a programme of trials and tests to identify effective models of health and employment support, and it is now using that learning to develop and/or roll out services to support disabled people and people with long-term health conditions to enter and stay in employment. The 2021 spending review confirmed that the public health grant will be maintained in real terms for the spending review period, so local councils can continue to invest in prevention and essential public health services. The distribution of that grant is heavily weighted towards the areas that face the greatest population health challenges, with per capita funding almost 2.5 times greater for the most deprived authorities than for the least deprived. The allocation at local authority level will be announced shortly.

The role that local authorities play in improving public health is far broader than simply the important services and interventions funded through the public health grant. That grant is part of a wider package of targeted investment in improving the public’s health over the spending review period, including £300 million to tackle obesity; £170 million to improve the “best start in life” offer available to families, including breastfeeding advice and parent-infant mental health support; and an additional £560 million to support improvements in the quality and capacity of drug and alcohol treatment, which was announced as part of the drugs strategy. In addition, we have made over £12 billion available to local councils since the start of the pandemic to address the costs and impacts of covid-19. Of this money, £6 billion was non-ringfenced, because we recognise that local authorities are best placed to decide how to manage the major covid-19 pressures in their local areas.