Councils will receive extra support to improve the health of their populations, courtesy of an Improvement and Development Agency programme launched this week.
The two-year healthy communities programme, funded by the Department of Health, aims to increase councils’ public health capacity and ability to cut health inequalities.
Its joint head, Susan Biddle, said one challenge for councils in building public health capacity was current changes to social care, given its importance to health improvement.
The programme aims to make public health central to councils’ strategies and help join up relevant functions, including social care, housing, environmental health, leisure and planning.
Councils will be assessed by fellow authorities, the IDeA and health partners on their public health capacity against the benchmark of an “ideal authority”, though the agency said it would not promote any particular structural arrangements.