I made this speech in this debate on non-contributory benefits.
I do welcome this amendment as I do the increases in benefits limitation. When we approved the benefits changes it was sold partly on the fact that it would bring more people into income support, which would mean they would benefit from medical support.
And that’s incredibly important. Income is a social determinant of health. The 2013 Healthy Lifestyle Survey found that, while 80% of respondents reported their general health as good or very good, the proportion of adults rating their health as very good was associated with higher income and younger age. The Survey demonstrated some significant inequalities locally, including:
26% of people who rented their homes smoked compared to 8% who owned their homes. 25% of people in low income households smoked compared to 3% in high income households;
In respect of alcohol use, adults from the lowest income category had both the highest level of abstinence (33%), and the highest levels of higher risk drinking (8%) and possible dependence (2%); and
24% of adults living in low income households had low mental wellbeing compared with 12.1% of those in higher income households. The proportion of adults with low mental wellbeing was higher among those living in States’ Housing or Guernsey Housing Association’s rental properties than those with other living arrangements.
But what is proposed isn’t sufficient in isolation and broader action, through joined up working in support of the Partnership of Purpose is needed to address these health inequalities rather than simply responding to the result of ill health.
I hear Deputy Roffey’s comments regarding possible solutions but would caution ESS spending a lot of time coming up with alternatives when, as I said in the earlier debate, HSC is looking at a fundamentally different model. I’m not sure whether Deputy Fallaize was listening to what I said in that debate to be honest.
And on that front I don’t think this will impact on the work that we are doing.
As such, and at this stage, I believe this amendment make sense and will be supporting it.
This is also why it is important to increase the benefits limitation on 224 families and 721 children and the benefits of short term measures and plans to prepare a further policy Letter on the bedding in of the Income Support Scheme and matters which have not been considered such as the personal allowances for those in receipt of care. It would be good if specific reference to health in all policies was mentioned as part of this work and consideration.