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The King's Fund responds to The Health Select Committee's Report on Public Health

3rd November 2011

David Buck, Senior Fellow in public health and inequalities at The King’s Fund, said in response to the Health Select Committee's report:

‘The lack of progress in tackling health inequalities is the most significant health policy failure of the last decade, so we welcome the focus on health inequalities in this report. We hope ministers will act on the Committee’s recommendations by taking the opportunity to extend current duties to reduce health inequalities contained in the Health and Social Care Bill.

‘We share the Committee’s concerns about the potential underfunding of public health. By using past allocations, rather than allocations based on need, the government risks entrenching historic underfunding in some areas. It should also look again at the plans for a new health premium to reward local authorities for success on public health – in its current form, the premium risks widening health inequalities. 

‘We agree with the call to strengthen the Public Health Sub-Committee’s role so that it becomes the place to analyse and scrutinise the impact of other government departments’ actions on public health and health inequalities. All major policies should have health impact assessments and these should be made public. 

‘We also agree with the Committee that the Responsibility Deal is too limited to drive large-scale changes in behaviour. The government’s current approach puts too much faith in incentives and voluntary agreements.’

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