This project is under way, and will run until August 2020.

  • Project run by the Faculty of Public Health, UK Health Forum and Citizens Advice, in partnership with the Office for National Statistics, Public Health England, Institute of Health Equity, Step Change and Money Advice Trust.
  • Part of our programme to take action on the social determinants of health – the political, social, economic, environmental and cultural factors which shape the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age. This project will focus on the role of money and income in shaping our health.
  • Testing whether providing a more coherent framework on financial insecurity and debt would help to improve the quality and focus of key services that seek to reduce health inequality.
  • Will develop a set of indicators to allow local stakeholders to better understand the scale and prevalence of financial insecurity and problematic debt.

The links between poverty, inequality and poor health have been well described. Being poor, especially for long periods, can cause poor health, and living with the day-to-day stresses of poverty in early childhood can have long-term impacts on health.

In the UK there is evidence of increasing problematic debt and financial insecurity, and growing levels of destitution. Data on these areas exist, but they are not brought together systematically. This project will involve developing a single dataset which will then be piloted by public health teams in a number of local authority areas. 

The aim is to test whether providing this coherent framework on financial insecurity and problematic debt can help to improve the quality of services such as mental health and primary care. 

The Faculty of Public Health will be working with agencies that provide advice services, local directors of public health, and relevant national organisations such as Public Health England and the Office for National Statistics. 

Core steering groups will be established to discuss what debt information would be useful, what information exists, who holds it and what issues there are with data access. 

Once the set of indicators has been developed, it will be tested and evaluated to establish what works and what needs further development. 

The set of indicators will improve understanding of the prevalence of financial insecurity and problematic debt on populations in a local authority area, and will enable the commissioning of better and more integrated services to address this. 

At a national level, a data map for the country could help better inform policy development that will help create a healthier UK population.

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