Summer Budget (Supplementary) [6]

Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Onkar Sahota
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, it was good that you started off this morning talking about public health issues in London.  My question is related to the Chancellor’s Budget statement in which he announced £13 billion of departmental savings, of which £200 million will be cut from local authorities and their ability to deliver a public health service.  He has cut £200 million from public health budgets.  Do you think this cut will help to deliver your Health Inequalities Strategy or hinder it?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Summer Budget (Supplementary) [6]

Answer for Summer Budget (Supplementary) [6]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Health budgets, as you know, are ring-fenced and I am not aware of a £200 million cut to the health budget.  Indeed, one of the things that we are trying to do now, working on the devolution of healthcare in London, is to make sure that public health budgets are protected and deliver real impacts.  I am surprised by the direction of your question.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Let me tell you and explain.  The public health budget has been moved away from the NHS into local authorities.  That is why it is being cut.  Had it been part of the NHS budget, it would have been a cut in the NHS budget.  The way you have managed to get this cut through while saying there will be no NHS cuts is because it is now with the local authority.  Having said that, will this help you to deliver your Health Inequalities Strategy or not?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You have a question later on about health inequalities and if I ‑‑

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Yes, you have a question later.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  This is a question relating to the Chancellor’s Budget, you see.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have every confidence that we will continue to be able to deliver policies that combat health inequalities.  We have had great success over recent years in doing that.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Also, the Chancellor said in his statement, “The NHS is our priority”, but the reality is different.  What we have in London is an increasing amount of diabetes, an increasing amount of alcohol, an increasing amount of childhood obesity and an increasing amount of cuts in the secondary health services.  Do you think that this cut will help you to deliver your Health Inequalities Strategy?

Also, 20 Chief Executives from charities wrote to the Chancellor, saying, “Please reverse these cuts”.  Will you join those charities, which are stakeholders and partners in delivering your Health Inequalities Strategy or will you not back them up?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Of course, I will support all charities and campaigners who want to improve healthcare in London, but I must ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  You will speak up for Londoners and lobby the Chancellor to reverse the cuts?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Anyway, I am going to answer the question, if I may.  The reality is that health inequalities have diminished in London over the last few years in this very important respect: everybody is now living longer in this city than ever before.  In the last seven years, life expectancy has increased by about 19 months for men and 18 months for women and the differential between men and women is evening out.  Most important of all, the difference in life expectancy between the highest and the lowest socioeconomic groups is actually narrowing - not widening but narrowing - and that is a testament to the improvements in healthcare in London and to better diet.  It is absolutely true.  In tackling a problem such as coronary heart disease ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  The question, Mr Mayor, was that independent experts say these cuts will damage your Health Inequalities Strategy.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Let me complete the point.  When I became Mayor seven or eight years ago, the difference in life expectancy between Kensington and Chelsea and Barking and Dagenham was about five-and-a-half years.  It is now three years.  That is still far too big a gap, but it is narrowing.  It is the poorest and the lowest socioeconomic groups that are seeing the fastest and the biggest gains in life expectancy.  That seems to me to be a material improvement in the life of our city that we should celebrate and progress towards equality of a most profound nature.