MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Launch of Business For Health

The Business Coalition for a Healthier Nation was one of the key recommendations of The Health of the Nation Strategy published in February 2020 by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity.

‘Business for Health’ as it is now called has been set up as a community interest company and will be formally launched in collaboration with MADWorld as part of Longevity Week on 11th November.  You can register for the launch here.

It is a business-led coalition of socially responsible employers, purchasers, investors and innovators.  Its aim is to enhance the health and economic resilience of the UK, catalysing and facilitating business contributions to reduce health inequalities and add five years to healthy life expectancy.

Why?

Health is a key business issue

  • Pandemic damage to economy – Covid-19 is not over and there will be others too. Covid has left UK businesses with c £100bn of unsustainable debt, some sectors such as travel, retail, hospitality hit much harder. More resilient individual and population health would reduce these risks.
  • Business cost of poor employee health – the high costs of poor employee health – The ONS estimate that 141 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury[1]. The estimated cost to business of mental ill-health alone is £33 to £42bn, according to the Stevenson-Farmer report[2].  Obesity and inactivity increase the risk of mental health by 182%[3]
  • Healthy ageing & longevity a growing market – business skills, investment and innovation can improve health and economic resilience and support the Levelling Up agenda. The government is keen to maximise the contribution of business to health.
  • Long-term investment opportunities – institutional investors and capital markets are seeking long-term, sustainable investment projects to improve preventative health, develop health resilience and reduce risk of poor health.
  • Health financial risk management – whether a business helps or harms health will become a new focus of ESG and SDG: business will be motivated to avoid losing value through risk management, making money through innovation and measuring it in an agreed way to satisfy ESG reporting requirements.  Reducing stranded asset risk will minimise shareholder action suits and maximise reputations.

Health is a government priority

The Government has committed to improve the health of the nation in its Manifestoto increase our healthy life expectancy by 5 extra years by 2035 whilst minimising health inequalities (HLE + 5). This must be the focus for improving our national health post Covid-19.

Improving our national health means improving our health resilience and reducing the big differences in how long people live in good health.

Growing Support

We have the support of central government to the foundation of the Business Coalition for a Healthier Nation.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Care, says:   “I am delighted that a Business Coalition for a Healthier Nation is being formed – as employers, investors and innovators, business will make vital contributions to reduce future pandemic risks through prevention, improve healthy life expectancy and build economic resilience in communities across our nation. If this pandemic has taught us anything it’s that our health and prosperity are completely interlinked. I look forward to working with them in the future.

A Business Coalition for a Healthier Nation is seen as valuable by two related government initiatives – the UK Longevity Council and the Government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge with its £300m investment fund to maximise business contributions to HLE+5.

The Business Coalition is supported by a growing number of business and academic leaders:

Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever who has since co -founded Imagine, a business collective for global systems change, supports the Coalition and says: “Absolutely crucial what you are starting”.

Professor Baron Peter Piot KCMG, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine;  Founding Executive Director of UNAIDS;  Special Advisor to the President of the European Commission on research and innovation for Covid-19, supports our work too. He says: ”Covid-19  illustrates how important it is to prevent the development of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease through healthy lifestyles. We live in a completely obesogenic environment. In order to have a better future for everybody, we need to not only work on our own health but also respect the health of the planet.  A risk management framework for health like we have in place for climate change seems essential.”

How to get involved

We are keen to hear from organisations who’d like to get involved in furthering the mission of ‘Business for Health’.  Please join our Register of Interest here and we will get in touch as we gear up for launch.  Meanwhile, do make sure to register for the launch event here too.

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/sicknessabsenceinthelabourmarket/2018

[2] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/658145/thriving-at-work-stevenson-farmer-review.pdf

[3] Healthcare RM, based on research with 6200 mental health cases

About the author

Tina Woods is a social entrepreneur and pioneer in health innovation – connecting science, government, business and academia to align thinking and take action – solving real world problems and capitalising on new opportunities amidst uncertainty and change.   She is the Founder and CEO of Collider Health and Collider Science and Co-Founder and CEO of Longevity International that runs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity (APPGL).  She is the co-author of The Health of the Nation: A Strategy for Healthier Longer Lives published by the APPGL in February 2020, and now setting up one of its key recommendations, the ‘Business for Health’ Coalition launching in October.