The Impact Of Social And Economic Inequalities On Children’s Health

 In Blog

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Fit and Healthy Childhood has released its most recent report which focuses on the impact of social and economic inequalities on children’s health. The report can be read in full here:

We at Fitness In.. believe a child’s social and economic surroundings impact upon their mental and physical wellbeing. During our Health & Wellbeing Pathway courses we examine what we can do to adapt our surroundings and our unique ‘Parent’s Evenings’ engage directly with those parents and carers who can most influence a child’s environment.
This is an important report which can be read via the link, however, we have reproduced the Chair’s executive summery below.

The Impact Of Social And Economic Inequalities On Children’s Health

Executive Summary

A child born into circumstances of social and economic inequality in the 21st century United Kingdom will start life with one hand tied behind their back.

Nowhere is the disparity of experience more marked than in that of health and this, in turn, impacts the entire life course. In the same way that priority is given to securing the national infrastructure, prioritising the health of children from all areas and in all circumstances from the outset would therefore seem to be prudent rather than profligate. Yet as this Report demonstrates, successive Governments have skimped rather than saved; failed to build upon existing policy and played a costly policy game of ‘catching up later’ instead of deploying the early intervention measures that are cheaper and more effective in the long term.

The current scenario is not entirely bleak. There are examples of good practice both nationally and internationally that go some way towards combating the socioeconomic inequalities that blight children’s lives. Yet in the United Kingdom, despite increasing awareness of the problem, there is no overarching strategy to take from the best of present and past models and forge new frameworks and structures to enable all families to offer their children the best start in life. This will require policy makers to adopt fresh thinking and work in partnership with representatives from industry, the voluntary sector, communities, advertising and media. Barriers between sectors and Government Departments must be breached; voluntary ‘advice’ replaced by statutory provision where necessary and new posts created. Professionals from all walks of life must accept a need to re-train and reappraise the way that they work with children and families. Local authorities, devolved nations and even countries should pool expertise. But finally, the impact of social and economic inequalities on children’s health will cost money; not for today’s society alone but for the generations that will succeed it. At the moment, whilst cuts in benefit further entrench existing inequalities for some families in every community, others not so far away, demonstrate daily that:

‘For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance’ (Matthew, 13:12 King James Bible).

However, the second part of the quotation:

‘but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath’

serves as a grim warning to the entire nation that it will be footing the bill unless the Government takes action to address the social and economic inequalities that are currently disadvantaging the adults of the future. The policies advocated during the course of this Report are not financially excessive but neither do they all come free.

If we are serious about children’s health, we must invest now to address the social and economic inequalities that are holding them back – saving later on the lasting prosperity that will therefore be achieved.

Helen Clark: March, 2018.