A multi-million pound charitable fund has been set up to examine how improvements to the design and construction of our towns and cities can help to address health inequalities and support “levelling up” across the UK’s regions.

The fund has been set up by Legal & General, which has formed a long-term partnership with Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the University College of London (UCL) Institute of Health Equity (IHE) and professor of epidemiology.

The Fund will sit alongside a new Legal & General IHE Network for UK public authorities and businesses to support idea creation, sharing of best practice and insight, and innovation which can help increase long-term health span and reduce health inequalities.

The Partnership plans to make a difference to the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and to health equity.

In the UK, the rich-poor gap in healthy life expectancy is almost twenty years, with those in the most deprived areas not only having shorter lives but also spending nearly a third of their lives in poor health.

We must seize the opportunity to build a fairer, healthier society

Sir Michael Marmot said: “Our Marmot Review 10 Years On report drew attention to the unacceptably large, and increasing, health inequalities in England. The question was not lack of knowledge of what to do to improve health equity, but how to do it. In light of the pandemic, which amplified social inequalities, our Build Back Fairer report argued that we must seize the opportunity to build a fairer, healthier society.

"For the first time, with this welcome initiative from Legal and General, we have the opportunity to bring business together with local government and the voluntary and community sector to make a real difference to the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and to health equity. It represents a significant step forward.”

Health inequalities lead to productivity losses of between £31–33 billion each year in England alone, so there is a clear economic and business case for business to help to tackle health inequality by addressing the environmental and social factors which can lead to improved long-term outcomes.