25 January 2023

Leaders in impact investment & public health launch new UK health equity network to tackle worsening health inequalities and life expectancy

Amidst dual cost-of-living and energy crises, leading global investor and UK financial services group, Legal & General, and world-leading public health specialist, Professor Sir Michael Marmot, are launching the Health Equity Network (HEN) to help employers, local authorities, and voluntary groups ease health-related crises including rising child poverty, increasing health inequalities, and falling life expectancy.

The HEN aims to roll out practical solutions to reduce health inequalities, and will help organisations and individuals across the public, private, and third sectors to connect and collaborate with those working towards similar health equity goals. It will offer opportunities to share work and knowledge and for members to engage with others across the country. Interested groups and individuals can sign up to join the network from today.

“National government and the NHS demonstrably cannot solve this problem unaided. There is a huge and complementary role for business, both as employers and providers of goods and services, as well as for local government and the third sector.  Our work with Michael Marmot aims to uncover synergies across these sectors, strengthen the research base and foster best practice.  That way we can bring vital investment to bear on the social causes of health inequalities and drive better outcomes.”

John Godfrey, Director of Levelling Up at Legal & General

“Society is not working for 40% of people in England: almost one in three (31%) children are living in poverty – that’s 4.3 million children, that are being failed; the cost-of-living crisis means people can’t afford to eat or heat their home; and those working in the public sector are being told they have to work for less money. The impact on health is catastrophic – we know what to do and many places are taking the initiative in the face of national government inaction.”

“We would like national government to reduce child poverty and reverse the fall in life expectancy in poorer areas. There is little sign of it happening. The network though enables cities and regions to share knowledge and experience on their work with local government, healthcare, housing, the criminal justice system, fire and rescue services, education, community groups and business to engage all these sectors to improve the conditions of life, which will translate into better life and narrower health inequalities.”

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, CH, Director, UCL Institute of Health Equity, who was conferred the prestigious Companion of Honour by His Majesty the King in this year’s New Years Honours for his life-time achievement in public health.

IHE has worked with over 30 local authorities to provide detailed practical ways forward to reduce health inequalities, despite the challenges of cost-of-living and funding cuts and the lack of government action and support. In 2022, in partnership with Legal & General, it launched The Business of Health Equity: The Marmot Review for Industry, which sets out three ways that business can improve people’s lives by reducing health inequality.

Legal & General is committed to providing vital research into the role of businesses and employers in tackling health inequality, by addressing the environmental and social factors which can lead to improved long-term outcomes. For example, in addition to its partnership with the UCL IHE, Legal & General commissioned research in partnership with the charity Tavistock Relationships: ‘Working Well: Delivering Better Outcomes for Hidden Workers’ calls on business to help tackle health inequality, proactively addressing the health and wellbeing gap across the UK. Based on this research, Legal & General has introduced a series of commitments to reduce health inequalities and improve the quality of life for the ‘hidden workforce’ across its real estate portfolio, demonstrating the crucial role business can play in building a fairer, healthier society.

Individuals and organisations interested in joining the Health Equity Network can sign up here: https://institute-of-health-equity.hivebrite.com/signup

Read the full press release here