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Call to Action to reduce health inequalities in Coventry & Warwickshire

The evidence tells us the pandemic has deepened inequalities. It is important now more than ever that we all work together to address the social conditions that cause health inequalities that lead to less years lived for some of the most vulnerable.

We are calling on all businesses and organisations across Coventry and Warwickshire to consider how they can help to address health inequalities through their working practices.

With these lessons how can businesses build back fairer and take action to tackle inequalities?

Health inequalities are unfair and avoidable differences in health across the population and are a result of social inequalities.  They arise because of the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age. Work is a key influence on health. It can influence our opportunities for good health, how we think, feel and act, and this shapes our mental and physical health and wellbeing. For employees the quality of work matters. Insecure and poor-quality employment is associated with increased risks of poor physical and mental health.  

Those who live in the most deprived areas have a lower life expectancy and tend to live fewer years in good health.

  • In Coventry, men can expect to live an average of 10 years less and will live more of their life in poor health; for women, the gap in life expectancy is 8.3 years.
  • In Warwickshire, men can expect to live an average of 9 years less and will live more of their life in poor health; for women, the gap in life expectancy is 5 years.

The causes of these inequalities are multiple and cannot be addressed by one solution or one organisation alone. It is only by us all working together that we can make a difference to our residents who will be affected most significantly by these inequalities.

If you would like to talk to someone about health inequalities or the Call to Action campaign please contact Pooja.Ahluwalia@coventry.gov.uk from the Coventry City Council Public Health Inequalities Team for assistance.

The impact of health inequalities on business and employment

The benefits to employers of reducing health inequalities include having a healthier and more committed workforce, contributing to local communities by employing local people and reduced staff turnover, all contributing to enhanced productivity and profitability. It will also lead to a more qualified and skilled local workforce, meaning employers are more easily able to recruit the staff that they need.

For employees, being in good employment is protective of health, but the quality of work matters. Insecure and poor-quality employment is associated with increased risks of poor physical and mental health.

The benefits to employers of reducing health inequalities include:

  • Having a healthier and more committed workforce,
  • Contributing to local communities by employing local people
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Contributing to enhanced productivity and profitability.
  • A more qualified and skilled local workforce to meet skills in demand when recruiting.

Employers play a vital role in supporting people's health and wellbeing, as well as the importance of providing secure, well-paid jobs which will help to move families out of poverty.

Key statistics for businesses:

  • A study of almost 32,000 workers across all UK industries, has revealed that employees lose, on average, the equivalent of 30.4 days of productive time each year as they take time off sick and underperform in the office as a result of ill-health.
  • The average cost of employee turnover, based on the average UK salary, is around £11,000 per person.
  • Unemployment in Coventry rose from 3.9% to 4.1% per cent in the three months to July - with young people being the most affected.
  • Between Oct 19 to Dec 20, of those aged 16-64 in Coventry, 24% were economically inactive. Of those that were economically inactive, 22% (13,000) were long term sick and 19% (11,100) were looking after family/home.
  • The unemployment rate in Warwickshire for those aged 50+ currently stands at 1.2% as of Q3 2020 and in Coventry, there has been an 89% increase in people aged 50+ becoming unemployed between Feb and May 2020.
  • In Coventry in 2018, 74% of White residents were in employment, compared with 55% of non-White residents. 81.6% of white residents are in employment compared with 76.1% of ethnic minority residents in Warwickshire.
  • There are predicted to be 47% fewer apprenticeship opportunities across the county as a result of COVID. In Warwickshire, apprenticeships were down 24% for quarter 1 compared to last year.
  • Only 34% of employees say their workplace gives them digital skills training, where 1 in 10 employed people completely lack basic digital skills.
  • 15% of workplaces face digital skill gaps in their workforce.
  • Average weekly pay in Coventry is £31 below the national average.

What can businesses do to combat health inequalities?

We are calling on all businesses and organisations across Coventry and Warwickshire to take 1-2 actions to help to address health inequalities.

Below are some examples of ways in which your business could help:

Implement the Real Living Wage

  • Average weekly pay in Coventry is £31 below the national average.

Implement a social value policy/approach

  • Integrate this into your procurement and service delivery processes.

Fair working practices

  • Review equality and diversity policies
  • Use an independent assessment tool, such as TIDE (Talent, Inclusion and Diversity Evaluation) to review and benchmark your organisation's performance on diversity and inclusion.
  • Introduce flexible working practices, especially for families/mothers with children aged 0-5 or other caring responsibilities.
  • Introduce paid sick leave
  • Work towards an accreditation such as the Disability Confident or Thrive at Work workplace wellbeing accreditations.
  • Introduce the use of sponsorship to ensure wider exposure of minority individuals to their peers, managers and other decision makers.
  • Employers can choose to publish their disability/gender/ethnicity pay figures and also publish a diagnosis and action plan to lay out the reasons for and the strategy to improve any disparities.

Invest in training and skills development

  • Provide training and routine skills support for employees, for example on digital skills, collaboration, confidence, communication, and presentation skills, which could disproportionately benefit more disadvantaged groups. This could focus on those in lower graded roles to aid development and progression.
  • Provide staff with equality training.
  • Introduce mentoring and peer-to-peer support programmes.

Apprenticeships and placements

  • Work with the CCC Employer Hub Kickstart programme to provide a work placement for a local young person
  • Work with the Warwickshire Skills Hub to upskill staff, support progression and accessible training for all. 
  • Invest in the Future Workforce: Pledge a commitment to apprenticeships, placements, or work experience. 

Community initiatives

  • Local outreach programmes
  • Digital Skills Training
  • Developing Green Spaces
  • Reducing Pollution
  • Register for the Employers Domestic Abuse covenant - a pledge to support those affected by abuse to enter or re-enter the workplace.

What has been done already?

  • Development of social value policy by Coventry City Council, full systems and practices to be developed
  • 13 organisations achieved the Thrive at work accreditation in Coventry & Warwickshire, with a further 102 working towards accreditation.
  • 258 employers in the West Midlands are registered with the Real Living Wage Foundation.
  • 181 organisations in Coventry and 214 organisations in Warwickshire are registered as being Disability Confident

We call on you to join with us to take action to address inequalities in our City and ensure that all our residents are able to live long and healthy lives.

Sign up to our roll call of organisations that have made a commitment to take action.

There is no prescribed or standard form for your commitment, they should be relevant to your organisation. The only requirement is that you publicly declare your commitments within your organisation and on the Call to Action webpages.

Events 

Changing Workplaces: Delivering equality and health through local businesses

Coventry & Warwickshire Economic Development and Public Health teams are coming together to put out a Call to Action to businesses to ask for their help in tackling health inequalities which mean that people living in the most deprived areas live shorter lives and in poorer health than their peers in more affluent areas. Thank you to everyone who attended the Changing Workplaces: Delivering equality and health through local businesses on 10 June 2021. We hope you enjoyed the event and a special thanks to all of our speakers - including Professor Sir Michael Marmot and Professor Sir Chris Ham.

If you missed it and would like to find out more about how the campaign can impact on your business watch the recording on YouTube.

Key contacts

If you would like to talk to someone about the Call to Action campaign please contact:

Pooja.Ahluwalia@coventry.gov.uk from the Coventry City Council Public Health Inequalities Team.