136.A major reason for transferring public health to local government was to enable health considerations to be taken into account across the full range of policy areas which impact on health—the ‘health in all policies’ agenda.
137.As highlighted above, in some local authorities very good progress has been made, with modest positive impact on public health outcomes already being seen, but in others, less headway has been made.
138.We visited Coventry City Council, which has been held up as an area where progress is already being made in embedding health across all policies. We were impressed by the variety of initiatives we saw and heard about there. These initiatives included interventions across the life course—ranging from an integrated programme for 0–5 year olds, through to improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing, supporting working age people, and redesigning Coventry as an age-friendly city. Some interventions were universal—including the drive to improve physical activity across the whole city—and others were targeted at specific populations—for example the MAMTA project aimed at supporting new parents in the south east Asian community. Further details of all the initiatives we visited can be found in Annex 2 of this report and with the written evidence submitted to the inquiry. Coventry also supplied information suggesting that they are already seeing some improvements in outcomes—both specific health outcomes (for example vaccination coverage) and also outcomes relating to the wider determinants of health—for example the number of young people in education, employment or training. The following infographic shows the initiatives we visited and heard about in Coventry, but is not an exhaustive list of all the work they are doing in this area.
139.The recent announcement of a tax on the manufacturers of sugary soft drinks was hailed by many witnesses as a positive move at a national level, which will support action at a local level. However witnesses told us that despite public health now being embedded within local authorities, it was still harder than it should be to influence planning applications for the benefit of health:
140.It is crucial that health considerations are taken into account in all areas of local government policy. Despite the increased potential for public health teams to influence other policy areas from their new position within local authorities, which we have heard is going very well in some areas, the current planning process continues to be a major impediment. We urge the Government to be bold, and make good on its commitment to health in all policies, by enshrining health as a material consideration in planning and licensing law.
76 Coventry City Council
77 Coventry City Council
30 August 2016