Councillor Margaret Bell (Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health) moved the recommendation as set out in the report. In doing so, she noted that this year’s report focussed on the connection between health and the rising cost of living. It was an informative and thought provoking report with evidence-based, specific and practical recommendations. Since publication, the Director of Public Health had amended recommendation 2 (Housing) to advocate for a commitment to preventing new homes from being built with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of less than A. Partners were being engaged to implement the recommendations.
Councillor Marian Humphries seconded the recommendation and reserved the right to speak.
Councillor Sarah Boad welcomed the report, particularly highlighting the user-friendly infographic presentation. She commended support for exploring the feasibility of free school meals for all primary school children and drew attention to cancer screening statistics, noting that these units needed to be close to home and easily accessible.
Councillor Bill Gifford commended the report for its readability and focus on the connection between the cost of living, poverty and health inequalities.
Councillor Jonathan Chilvers thanked the Public Health Team for the report and welcomed conversations which had taken place with Councillor Bell to increase the EPC rating target for new builds to an A rating. He expressed the view that an EPC rating of C was still a good target for existing properties. Councillor Chilvers considered that there was an awareness of the investment needed for retrofitting which would have an impact across a range of areas including a reduction of energy bills and carbon emissions together with health impacts. He hoped that the evidence base could be utilised to obtain funding for retrofitting.
Councillor Isobel Seccombe also commended the report. She was pleased to see the reduction in the life expectancy gap but was concerned about the levels of obesity reported. She noted national figures around unemployment included in the report and stated that she would have liked to see the Warwickshire figures included as she believed that these were below the national trend. In terms of fuel poverty she noted that the government had been contributing to energy bills since summer 2022 and considered that this had made a positive impact. Councillor Seccombe thanked the Public Health team for providing the data to drive evidence-based policy and applauded Mike Jackson for his artistic presentation of the information.
Councillor Judy Falp also praised the report and welcomed the visible partnership work that was taking place. She particularly supported the recommendation for all primary school children to receive free school meals but recognised that this was not only a funding issue. She concluded by acknowledging the hard work of the Public Health team and associated partners.
Councillor John Holland also thanked the Director of Public Health for the report, noting the recommendations around transport which linked to the previous debate. He considered that affordable housing was a key issue for residents and linked this to the rising cost of living and the association with stress and mental health. He noted that the 2019 Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (2019) had highlighted diversity across Warwickshire and mused over how many of the identified projects had come to fruition. He congratulated the Director of Public Health on her report and urged colleagues to support implementation of the recommendations to meet local needs.
Councillor Marian Humphreys welcomed the report and looked forward to receiving progress reports at Health and Wellbeing Board on the implementation of the recommendations.
In response, Councillor Margaret Bell thanked the Chamber for its support. In terms of cancer screening, she confirmed that Health and Wellbeing Board would be looking at access to services, including the use of the mobile screening unit. She recognised the challenges in housing but noted that work with district and borough councils would seek to address this. She noted that the Health and Wellbeing Board included a wide range of partners who recognised that variations in need across the county and health inequality was at the top of the health agenda. The report needed to be a living document with progress being monitored and including partnership support.
A vote was held. The recommendations were agreed by a majority.
That Council supports the Director of Public Health Annual Report 2022.