Social Equity and Health
Addressing health inequality to give everyone an equal opportunity in life
Why this theme?
This is an area SWM has been monitoring for the past decade and is a priority concern for the West Midlands given that health inequality levels are not improving and fuel poverty levels are only modestly reducing. The energy price rise crisis of 2022 has excerbated concerns around the latter even more. We recognise that our population should not live in a region where socio-economic factors disproportionately affect members of society, and yet health inequality levels are still stubbornly high. SWM established its two health networks in 2014 so that we could work more closely with public health professionals and the NHS to address these concerns. We will continue to work with these stakeholders and others to ensure that the most disadvantaged people do not lose up to ten years of their lives compared to those more affluent, and that people do not have to choose between heating and eating.
Target 1: By 2030, achieve a 40% reduction in male and female health inequality from 2019 levels
Target 2: By 2030, reduce the proportion of households in fuel poverty by 50% from 2019 levels
National reports such as the UK Industrial Strategy aim to hit similar targets and have made health inequality between the richest and the poorest a priority area. Fuel poverty is something we have been monitoring already as part of our metrics reporting for the West Midlands Combined Authority; National Government are also aware of these issues and have laid out national targets for this in the Clean Growth Strategy. Beyond this, we also analysed the NHS Long Term Plan to provide an overview of health care priorities. As with all themes within our Roadmap, we have also consulted with local experts and leaders in the field and looked at the current state of the region and suggesting how to improve its performance and action is crucial in this area.
Current progress on target 1 (2021) – more action needed. The latest analysis (2018) shows that the health inequality gap is worsening in the West Midlands, especially in males.
Current progress on target 2 (2021) – sustain current action. Fuel poverty levels in the region have dropped from approximately 16% in 2010 to 10% in 2018; more work still needs to be done in light of the 2022 energy crisis to ensure levels continue to drop.
What our Members are doing
Arden Estate Partnerships is a Local Improvement Finance Trust Company (LIFTCo) which was set up by Government in 2003 to address inequalities in health and social care estate throughout Coventry and adjacent areas. The organisation is a long-term public private partnership and has invested over £34M locally through new developments. More information on other projects Arden do around social equity and health can be found on their website.
Marches Energy Agency works with a range of partners in lots of ways to address fuel poverty. It is an independent charity supporting communities in the Midlands with its overriding objective to support householders in fuel poverty. With partners they work to provide energy advice at home, to local authorities and installers and more. In 2020, MEA supported 3,500 struggling with fuel poverty, 41% of which had health conditions. They also delivered 360 home visits in this year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.