ASH Daily News for 10 December 2019


  • Opinion: No party manifesto goes far enough on public health
  • Most prosperous areas have greater inequality
  • Leicester: Driver fined £1,452 after being caught smoking cigarette in work van


  • Ireland: E-cigarette industry faces advertising curbs



Opinion: No party manifesto goes far enough on public health

Tim Elwell-Sutton, Assistant Director at the Health Foundation, writes in the Local Government Chronicle on the lack of action on public health across the main parties’ manifestos:

“There are signs that all is not well with the nation’s health. New data shows that a girl born in 2019 is expected to live four and half years less than was projected in 2013. In a world where we are used to constant improvements in health, that’s a remarkable change and one that will not be fixed by ever-greater investment in healthcare.

“The election debate on health so far has focused on the three main political parties vying to show that the NHS is safe in their hands, but there has been almost no discussion about what they will do to keep people healthy. Even the wider role that the NHS could play in preventing illness is largely absent from their manifestos. The Conservative manifesto re-commits to the ambitious target of giving people an extra five years of healthy life by 2035, though there is little on how this will be achieved. Labour plans to introduce a Future Generations Well-being Act, to embed health considerations in all policies and place a new duty on NHS agencies to collaborate with directors of public health. The Liberal Democrats promise a New Zealand-style wellbeing budget and a new minister for wellbeing.

“One area of interest to local government is what the parties are saying about public health. The public health grant to local authorities was cut by 23% in real terms per capita between 2015-16 and 2019-20. The Conservative manifesto doesn’t promise anything more than a previously-announced increase in the grant next year at least in line with inflation. Meanwhile, Labour has promised to reverse previous cuts with an extra £1bn in 2020-21, and the Lib Dems have promised £600m. Nevertheless, with all parties pledging above-inflation increases in NHS funding, the public health grant is set to represent a decreasing share of total health spend from 2020-21 regardless of who wins the election. Chronic under-investment in prevention, compared to treatment, seems set to continue.

“Another area of local government work that is vital for a healthy population is giving children and young people a good start in life. Both the Conservatives and Labour promise major reviews of the children’s social care system, though what the outcome of those reviews might be is impossible to predict. Labour promises to invest £1bn in a new Sure Start Plus service and £1.1bn in a National Youth Service, while the Lib Dems promise £1bn for children’s centres and £500m for local youth services.

“[…] In the long-run, improvements to the nation’s health will depend more on improving the conditions that people live in, than providing services. Reducing the number of people living in poverty would have a bigger impact on improving health and reducing inequalities than anything else. There is little in the Conservative manifesto that would increase support to the lowest income households. By contrast, Labour and the Lib Dems pledge to reverse a number of poverty-creating measures – such as the two-child limit for means tested benefits – and boost support to lower income households. It is also encouraging that all parties have committed to achieving net zero carbon emission by 2050 or earlier, as climate change represents the greatest long-term threat to improving health.

“The three main parties have set out contrasting visions for the country and for improving health. It is encouraging to see that they all have ambitions to improve health as well as healthcare. They all acknowledge that local authorities have a role in this. However, given the scale of the challenges that the next government will face, including an 18-year gap in healthy life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas, none of them go far enough.”

Source: Local Government Chronicle, 9 December 2019

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Most prosperous areas have greater inequality

The 50 most unequal council areas in England are almost all in relatively affluent areas of the south of England while the 10 most equal areas are all to be found in the central and northern areas of the country, new research shows.

Data shared exclusively with Local Government Chronicle (LGC) by the authors of An English Atlas of Inequality reveals that the five most unequal local authority areas in England are all in inner London with Kensington & Chelsea RBC topping the list, while the 20 most equal areas are all in the north and the Midlands, with the exception of Torbay Council area in Devon. The report’s authors, Sheffield University professors Alasdair Rae and Elvis Nyanzu, used the gini coefficient, which is a measure of household income inequality within each area, to build their data.

Professor Rae said: “Many of the poorest people [in England] do not live in the poorest locations and we believe there is a need to examine this in more depth if future policies are to be effective. Without understanding this critical methodological question, policies which seek to remedy poverty and inequality may miss their targets.”

Source: Local Government Chronicle, 9 December 2019

See also:
Professors Alasdair Rae and Elvis Nyanzu – An English Atlas of Inequality (website includes map outputs of each of the 317 local authority districts in England, showing different measures of inequlaity in each area)

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Leicester: Driver fined £1,452 after being caught smoking cigarette in work van

A driver has been left with a £1,452 tab after being caught smoking a cigarette in his work van. The man was taken to court after being seen smoking in his van and dropping a cigarette butt on the street.

Leicester City Council prosecuted the man after he also failed to give his name and address to one of their city wardens. The man was convicted of throwing litter, smoking in a smoke-free place and failing to provide his details to a city warden.

After the case, a Leicester City Council spokesperson said: “If you smoke in an enclosed works vehicle such as a van, the vehicle counts as a smoke-free place and you can be issued with a penalty notice for this. You can also be fined for littering from vehicles, or for littering in general.”

Source: Leicestershire Live, 6 December 2019

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Ireland: E-cigarette industry faces advertising curbs

A number of restrictions on e-cigarettes adverts will be introduced next year, the health minister said. Simon Harris yesterday said the new rules would follow in the footsteps of the public health alcohol act which banned the advertisement of alcohol near schools, crèches and on public transport.

Mr Harris was speaking at the launch of a report by the Irish Cancer Society where the Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society released research which indicated that teenagers felt they were being targeted by vaping companies. The research, carried out by Ipsos MRBI, found that teenagers believe that the products are being marketed at them. None of the respondents for the survey believed that sweet flavours like candy floss and bubblegum were designed for adults only and are not intended to appeal to children.

Declan Connolly, chief executive of the Irish Vape Vendors Association (who are independent of the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries), said he didn’t have a problem with potential changes to the marketing of the products. He said: “There is probably room for change in the way vaping is marketed. There should be no place for cartoonish marketing of flavours that are marketed to appeal to youth.” Mr Connolly said he wouldn’t have a problem with banning advertising close to schools, adding that billboard advertising should also be looked at. However he rejected the idea that flavours should be banned. “We would vehemently disagree with trying to ban flavours. Many, many vapers rely on flavours to keep them smoke free. They don’t want to vape something that reminds them of smoking, they want to move away from that completely,” he said.

Source: The Times, 10 December 2019

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