Policy Poverty reduction strategy

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11. Objective 5 - Improving health outcomes for people on low incomes

The Council’s Public Health Strategy observes that while health outcomes overall in East Devon are broadly very good, there are significant health inequalities in the district.

Overall East Devon has a low proportion of people with unhealthy weight, but as our strategy shows, a greater proportion of children have excess weight in the most deprived wards in the district. Obesity can increase the risk of health conditions such as diabetes, joint problems and heart disease.

The Public Health Strategy notes that there is a strong link between health outcomes and the following factors:

  • Income levels.
  • Levels of education, due to better employment prospects and incomes for people with higher qualifications, but also better ‘health literacy’ and adoption of healthier lifestyles.
  • Lifestyle and health behaviours, including dietary factors, smoking, and lack of physical activity and are also important risk factors.
  • Substance misuse (including alcohol and drug use).

The Doughnut Economic model has regard to equality and the basic needs of individuals and households. We are starting to use this to guide decision making and influencing the development of local strategies and policies.

Actions for 2021- onwards

District Council actions 

The Council has a role to play in providing a range of preventative public health services that can have a positive impact on health outcomes for low income residents and communities. These range from supporting physical exercise through provision of leisure centres, promoting active lifestyles, and providing access to green spaces, to working with local voluntary groups and businesses to promote healthy eating and access to sustainable food. 

The key actions the Council will take from 2021 onwards to help improve health outcomes for people are set out in more detail in the action plan that accompanies this strategy. They include:

  • Providing a discount in entry prices at LED run sports and swimming facilities for people receiving benefits.
  • Providing free swimming sessions for low income families with children, and free and discounted swimming sessions for young people.
  • Using planning policy to help ensure new developments help create a good living environment which supports good mental and physical health outcomes, through provision of open space and the design of the built environment.
  • Reduce obesity, promote healthy eating and healthy weight programmes.
  • Delivering against the Armed Forces Covenant commitment that is based on improving health and wellbeing, prosperity, integration and reaching potential for ex-service personnel.

Partnership actions 

The Council will also support delivery of a number of activities to improve health outcomes with local partners, including:

  • Supporting free exercise referrals by GPs for low income residents in East Devon.
  • Supporting cookery skills and healthy eating programmes for low income residents delivered by local voluntary and community organisations.   
  • Providing a programme of free lunches with churches and other partners for low income families during school holidays in areas of highest need in the district.
  • Supporting outreach advice service for residents experiencing mental health issues due to low income, debt or addiction.

Influencing and lobbying actions 

While the Council provides a number of services which impact on public health, it is not the lead agency on public health, social care and clinical issues, so it will seek to collaborate with and influence a range of NHS bodies, Devon County Council and voluntary and community organisations to help improve health outcomes for people on low incomes. This can be achieved through several key partnership structures, including: 

  • Devon Health and Wellbeing Board, which includes representatives of NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS providers, Healthwatch and local authorities.
  • Primary Care Networks, which bring together GP practices in East Devon and are focusing on developing Integrated Neighbourhood models to address key health and social care issues in local communities.