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IHR Seminar: Health economics in local government settings: a focus on childhood obesity

On behalf of Health Economics Group, PenTAG and Knowledge Mobilisation

Speaker: Dr Emma Frew, Reader in Health Economics, NIHR Career-Development Fellow, University of Birmingham.

Event details



In April 2013, responsibility for public health in England moved away from the National Health Service to local authorities (LAs). Financial support was provided through ring-fenced public health budgets for LAs to work with providers of health and non-health services, as well as community organisations to improve population health and wellbeing (HM Government, 2012c).  More recently however, budgets have been cut, in 2015/6 the LA public health budget was cut by 7% (£200 million), and it has to be further cut by 3.9% annually over the next five years – amounting to a long term reduction in real-terms of £600 million by 2020/21.   Alongside these cuts, in October 2015, the Government announced that by the end of Parliament, LA’s will be able to keep 100% of business rates they raise locally and the public health budget will be no longer ring-fenced. 

Moving public health into LAs has provided opportunity to integrate public health with other LA functions such as education, planning, housing, crime to improve population health and wellbeing.  Together with the rapidly changing financial context, there has also been a move towards ‘place-based’ activities, aligning providers of care to achieve common objectives that are about meeting the needs of local populations.  

One key public health priority it to tackle the alarming levels of childhood obesity.  Children who are overweight have an increased risk of disease, have lower quality of life and an increased risk of adult obesity causing a huge societal burden over the life course.  This seminar will focus on how health economics can contribute to childhood obesity interventions within a LA setting.  Consideration will be given to the organizational, political, and financial context, and the need for LA’s to align priorities to improve population health and wellbeing, whilst reducing inequalities.  It will discuss how the ‘traditional’ methods of economic evaluation fit within that context and provide insight into how the economist can contribute to decision making within this setting.  It will use case-studies from Birmingham LA to present novel, innovative ways of changing the obesogenic environment and discuss how economics can be used to evaluate these approaches. 


Smeall, JS07