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Inequality bad for the economy and our health, says FPH

An evidence-based approach is needed to tackle the costs of treating poverty to the taxpayer, individuals and communities, according to the Faculty of Public Health today (1 August) in its response to the publication of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report, 'Counting the cost of UK poverty'.

Commenting on the report, Professor John Middleton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “Today’s report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation makes a strong economic case for tackling poverty. Public health professionals have known for a long time that inequality is bad for our health. This reports estimates that treating illness relating to poverty costs the tax payer in the region of £29 billion. Around a quarter of all spending, both in acute hospital care and in primary care, can be attributed to greater use of these services by people in poverty.

“If we want to reduce the costs to the NHS of treating illnesses relating to poverty, and break the cycle of poverty that creates ‘health haves’ and ‘have nots’, we need to invest in evidence-based public health policies that tackle its causes. That is why FPH supports a true living wage for everyone in employment and training. The government’s National Living Wage is a welcome step in the right direction, but funding it should not come at the expense of fair working conditions.

"Whilst the cost of living has increased, people’s earnings have stagnated, making it harder to afford essential items like food and rent. The living wage provides an acceptable standard of living based on the cost of living in the UK. It has cross-party support and is an investment in the future of our country. The living wage can help create a fairer society in which our children are not raised in poverty, and our communities can thrive. No-one should have to choose between eating or heating their homes.”

Written: 01/08/2016 , last modified: 27/10/2016