Health Secretary Frank Dobson, speaking to the Public Health Forum, set out the way in which overall Government policy is supporting the National Health Service and social services in the drive for better health. He outlined how joined up policies are helping to tackle the causes of ill health.
Poverty, which is a primary cause of ill health, is being addressed on a number of fronts. The national minimum starting on 1 April 1999 will effect 2 million people. Income tax changes will result in families earning less than 235 pound per week paying no tax . The Working Families Tax Credit will be introduced in October 1999 and this will give a minimum weekly income guarantee for families of 235 pounds. National Insurance contributions for the low paid will be cut.
The Department of Health and the Department for Education and Employment are collaborating in the Sure Start programme. It will give young children and their parents child care and support . Sixty disadvantaged areas of the country have been identified as trailblazer districts and have been asked to work with all local partners to develop programmes which can meet the key values and aims of the programme. The long term aim is to establish 250 projects over three years with a budget of 452 million pounds.
Other measures include the New Deal for the young unemployed, increased investment in housing, local strategies for crime and disorder to tackle lawlessness and vandalism, and reducing noise and air pollution.