Health and Wealth: The Inclusive Growth Opportunity for Mayoral Combined Authorities

Metro Dynamics were commissioned by Public Health England to produce a report on the relationship between health and wealth and the opportunity that devolution presents to promote prevention and early intervention across the life course.

The report argues that improving people's health and wellbeing is fundamentally about creating prosperous local economies that benefit everyone. Health and wellbeing are not only impacted by the quality of NHS care and health-related behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise, but also by other factors, such as one's childhood or whether one lives in high quality housing in an area which has good air quality, encourages social contacts and encourages outdoor activity.

Therefore, inclusive growth, which ensures that everyone has a good level of income and partakes in the benefits of a thriving local economy, must be at the heart of any effort to improve health and wellbeing. Inclusive growth also addresses the considerable health inequalities existing within and between local communities

The report focuses on what Mayoral Combines Authorities can do, with their new powers and funding, to better integrate health and wellbeing concerns into their mainstream economic priorities. It identifies the following specific recommendations:

  1. Reflect wellbeing in economic plans and indicators: Reducing health inequalities should be measured and prioritised as an explicit focus of mayoral activities, rather than being seen merely as a consequence of economic growth.
  2. Make wellbeing a key priority for the mayoral single pot investment funds: Use the relatively unfettered single investment funds introduced by devolution deals to prioritise wellbeing.
  3. Adopt a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach: Experience from around the world shows that re-shaping people's physical, social and service environments to support wellbeing, healthy behaviours and economic growth makes sound economic sense.
  4. Use mayoral leadership to promote wellbeing and leverage local expertise: Use the mandate and platform that mayors have to commission and trial new city region-wide initiatives. By way of example, they are ideally placed to upscale interventions linked to licensing and regulatory issues.
  5. Work across Mayoral Combined Authorities to develop a new economic framework case for investing in wellbeing: Creating a policy and investment environment within which officers feel that they have the 'permission' to invest in social as well as capital programmes.
  6. Seize the opportunity to discuss with central government the devolution of transformation funding and powers to ensure more priority is given to prevention and early intervention: Develop the case for wellbeing and preventative investment being included in future devolution deals.

The full report can be read here.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of PHE, had the following to say about the report in his weekly blog: Duncan Selbie's Friday Message.