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February 26, 2024
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ADPH joins call to Chancellor ahead of Spring Budget

The letter (below), which was organised by the IPPR and sent to Mr Hunt over the weekend, includes a recommendation that Treasury issue a call for evidence, to help draw on the significant evidence on what works to support public health and the economy from across the health sector.

Dear Chancellor,

We are writing to you as a group of organisations and individuals deeply concerned about the UK population’s worrying state of health, particularly compared to similar countries, and the damage this is doing to the economy – from the size and strength of our labour market; to productivity; to growth and GDP.

As the Office for Budget Responsibility has confirmed, poor health is one of the greatest fiscal threats we face. New ONS data shows that 2.8 million people are currently out of the labour market because of long-term illness, while research by the IPPR Commission on Health and Prosperity has shown that long-term illness explained over half of all employment exits between 2015 and 2022.

This begs the question: why are we so unhealthy as a nation? To which the answer is clear: our poor track record on preventing ill health. As outlined by the recent ‘Holding Us Back’ report from leading public health organisations, the vast majority of health conditions contributing to our economic problems are driven by poor diets, alcohol and tobacco. And recent rises in gambling and online harm are implicated in worsening mental health: the leading barrier to economic participation among those under 44 years old.

As much as this is a challenge, it is also an opportunity. Bold new action to create healthy Britain is the clearest, untapped path to prosperity we have. As the Times Health Commission has so convincingly argued recently, that requires rethinking our approach to health – and beginning to see health intervention as an investment, not a cost.

Recent commitment to creating a smokefree generation through combining further regulation with additional investment is welcome and shows what can be done when political ambition aligns with the evidence.

There’s no lack of ideas, evidence or consensus on the steps needed to deliver on that mission. That’s why we’re calling on you to issue a formal call for evidence as part of the 2024 Spring Budget, on financial and non-financial health policy options that help make it easier for everyone to lead healthy lives – by shaping the environments they grow, learn, work and play in. This would not only help collect the breadth of creative policy ideas out there but could also support bodies like the OBR in scoring the economic gains of such interventions. With an election coming up, the Spring Budget is an opportune moment to collate ideas to inform a long-term strategy through the next parliament.

These are areas where the public is ahead of the politicians and commentariat. The public overwhelmingly believe the government should have a stronger role in acting to create healthy lives and to take pressure off the NHS. That is, they agree with Churchill that ‘healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have’. And there are few people better than you – as current Chancellor, and the longest-serving health secretary since the formation of the NHS – to deliver on the people’s priority of a healthier, wealthier country.


Chris Thomas, Head of the Commission on Health and Prosperity IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research)

Katharine Jenner, Director of the Obesity Health Alliance

Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)

Pamela Healy OBE, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust

Dr Katherine East, Research Fellow, National Addiction Centre, King’s College London

Dr Katherine Severi, Chief Executive, Institute of Alcohol Studies

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair, Alcohol Health Alliance

Dr Richard Piper, CEO, Alcohol Change UK

Dr Matthew Davies, President, Association of Anaesthetists

Dr Anna Livingstone General Practitioner (retired), Doctors in Unite

Chris Kemble Operations and Services Manager, DrugFAM

Diane Goslar, Patient Representative Royal College of Psychiatrists

William Roberts, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health

Professor Jamie Brown, Director of UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group

Sue Taylor, Head of Alcohol Policy, Fresh & Balance

Dr Sarah Jackson, Principal Research Fellow, UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group

Dr Vera Buss, Research Fellow, UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group

Liz Stockley, Chief Executive, British Dietetic Association

Kate Halliday, Executive Director, Addiction Professionals

Dr Melissa Oldham, Senior Research Fellow, UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group

Dr Claire Garnett, Research Fellow, University of Bristol Tobacco and Alcohol Research

Mike Trace, Chief Executive, The Forward Trust Group

Dr Tim Cross, President, British Association for the study of the liver (BASL)

Dr Jennifer Lisle, Work and Health Lead, UK Faculty of Public Health

Matthew Philpott, Executive Director, Health Equalities Group

Professor Rob Poole, Co-Director, Centre for Mental Health and Society, Bangor University

Mr Mike McKirdy, President, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Dr Fiona Donald, President, Royal College of Anaesthetists

Justina Murray, CEO, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs

Dr Dolly van Tulleken, Dolitics

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Founder, River Cottage

Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive, Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming

Sue Pritchard, Chief Executive, Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC)

Dr Lindsey MacDonald, Chief Executive, Magic Breakfast.

James Toop, Chief Executive, Bite Back

Susan Mitchell, Head of Policy, Alzheimer’s Research UK

Rob Percival, Head of Policy, Soil Association

Thomasina Miers, OBE, co-founder of Wahaca and trustee, Chefs in Schools

Greg Fell, President, Association of Directors of Public Health

Jessie Inchauspé, MSc, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of Glucose Revolution and the GlucoseGoddess Method

Scott Crosby, Associate Director, HNY Centre for Excellence in Tobacco Control

John Maingay, Director of Policy and Influencing, British Heart Foundation

Dr Chris van Tulleken, Associate Professor, UCL

Colette Marshall, Chief Executive, Diabetes UK

Michelle Wilkins, Head of Services, Children’s Liver Disease Foundation

Professor Phil Banfield, Council Chair, British Medical Association

Anna Garrod, Policy and Influencing Director, Impact on Urban Health

Dr Trudi Seneviratne OBE, Registrar, The Royal College of Psychiatrists

Dr Sarah Clarke, President, Royal College of Physicians

Professor Graham MacGregor CBE, Chair, Action on Salt and Sugar

Dr Aveek Bhattacharya, Director, Social Market Foundation

Dr Nicola Heslehurst, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Association for the Study of Obesity

Kristin Bash, Chair, Food SIG, UK Faculty of Public Health

Dr Giota Mitrou, Director of Research, Policy and Innovation, World Cancer Research Fund

Professor Rachel Batterham OBE PhD FRCP, Chairperson, The Obesity Empowerment Network, Professor of Obesity, Diabetes & Endocrinology

Lord James Bethell, former health minister

Ali Morpeth (RNutr), Co-chair Food & Nutrition, Children’s Alliance

Michael Baber, Director, Health Action Research Group

Gill Walton CBE, Chief Executive, Royal College of Midwives

Dr Sonia Adesara, GP and former National Medical Director clinical fellow

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