This site is intended for health professionals only

Areas with worst health also have greater poverty, report finds

Areas with worst health also have greater poverty, report finds
By Jess Hacker
22 January 2024

Around one-in-four people who are economically inactive live in the 50 unhealthiest local authorities, new research has suggested.

According to the thinktank IPPR, people living in the most deprived local authorities in England are also twice as likely to be in poor health than those in the least deprived authorities.

The report – titled Healthy Places, Prosperous Lives (18 January) – also indicated that nearly one and a half times more likely to experience economic inactivity.

Researchers found that almost one-in-10 people in places like Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham – in the north and East Midlands – report that they are in bad health, compared to around one-in-33 in Hart, West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire in the south.

These areas also correlate with areas of high and low economic activity, with around 38.5% of working aged people in Nottingham economically inactive compared to 17.1% in West Oxfordshire, for example.

IPPR said the ‘double injustice’ in areas with high levels of sickness and low economic activity is exacerbated by a higher likelihood to experience worse levels of unemployment and household income.

The thinktank called for the introduction of ‘Health and Prosperity Improvement Zones’ (HAPI zones), modelled on Clean Air Zones, which would focus on improving housing quality, addition and physical and mental health.

Former health minister and IPPR commissioner Lord James Bethell said: ‘If everywhere in the UK was as healthy as Wokingham, Windsor or Maidenhead, we’d be the healthiest country in the world – and much wealthier too.

‘Not just because they have a better NHS, but because they have the right foundations for a healthy life: healthier food choices, less takeaways and betting shops, fewer mouldy houses, cleaner air and more green spaces.

‘Sick Britain is something we just cannot afford. We urgently need a plan to give people and communities real power over their health.’

The lead author and research fellow at IPPR Efua Poku-Amanfo said: ‘Bad health blackspots, especially in the North East and North West of England and the South of Wales, are stifling national economic growth and holding back the wealth and health of the nation.

‘Local leaders are ready and willing to take ownership of public health, collaborating with their communities to work out the best solutions. But they need the powers and funding from central government to turn things around.’

Want news like this straight to your inbox?

Related articles