Mark Whitehead 15 June 2018

Tax-raising powers for mayors could help reduce health inequalities, report says

A leading research group has called for cities to be given more powers to help improve public health.

The King's Fund says metro mayors and other city leaders should be given more responsibility for tax-raising and decision-making.

Its report The role of cities in improving population health: international insights highlights case studies and interviews with local leaders in several countries.

Examples include New York and Amsterdam where regulations have been introduced to control the advertising and sale of unhealthy foods.

In Paris and Barcelona planning powers have been used to create public spaces for physical activity, and in Copenhagen and Berlin city authorities have invested in public transport and cycling or walking routes to reduce traffic and improve air quality.

The report's lead author, Chris Naylor, senior fellow at The King’s Fund, said: 'The cities that have made the fastest progress in improving public health are where mayors and other local leaders have been given the decision-making and tax-raising powers they need to take action.

'Granting England’s cities greater powers could help to reduce health inequalities and address growing problems caused by poor housing, air quality and other issues.'

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