Tackling poverty: how can collaboration and data help drive success?

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Why we’re doing this project

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Poverty is hugely detrimental to health: it makes people ill. The impact of poverty on health is felt in many ways, from an inability to afford warm, dry housing or a healthy diet in the short-term to long-term cumulative effects on physical and mental health, and quality and length of life. Poverty affects development from birth, and even before, and our choices as adults. It also costs our health and care and wider public services billions to repair the consequences through preventable and delayable demand. The impact of poverty, through so-called ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, and via inclusion health, form parts of our work at The King’s Fund on tackling the worst health outcomes – one of four strategic priorities

A free-to-access NHS available to all is not a sufficient response to this challenge. While it is clearly a necessary one, there is much more that can be done within existing resources, through raising awareness, action and advocacy, as we have recently argued. Anchor institutions and the establishment of integrated care systems each provide opportunities to go further, faster. 

With the scale and nature of poverty changing fast in England, and across the UK, at the moment there is an urgent need for action. The heath and care system will do that better by working with, through and alongside it’s key partners. This project will therefore explore how stronger partnerships between the health and care system and the inclusive growth community can make a meaningful and practical contribution to mitigating, reducing and preventing poverty and its associated impacts on health.  

What we’re doing

The King’s Fund is working in partnership with the Centre for Progressive Policy to look at how data can inform priorities, challenge effectiveness and promote action. 

The work will be both qualitative and quantitative to develop practical insight to help local places and systems more effectively mitigate, reduce and prevent poverty’s impact on population health.  

It is clear that there is much good work happening already. We will complement this with exploratory work on the data, metrics and analytical tools would be useful to help places and systems double down on poverty prevention and mitigate its health impacts, as well as help inform planning in the longer term. 

We will engage with senior health and care leaders in roles where the impact of poverty is a key aspect of care and influences the size and shape of demand; and with those with responsibilities for inclusive growth and economic development. We are working with colleagues in Liverpool, Essex, Leicester, Bristol, Gateshead, West Yorkshire, and the West Midlands, and would welcome approaches and ideas from outside those networks. 

Key milestones

We will be working on this project through the summer of 2022, and will publish our findings later in the year. Both organisations are hosting major participatory conferences during September with poverty at their heart. 

Project leads

Rosie Fogden

Centre for Progressive Policy

Ben Franklin

Centre for Progressive Policy


Toby Lewis

Senior Fellow


David Buck

Senior Fellow (Public Health)

Related work

The King’s Fund has undertaken work in the past on poverty and health, for example in 2015 on Tackling poverty: making more of the NHS in England, and more recently in 2021 on The NHS’s role in tackling poverty and earlier this year in ‘Time for local NHS leaders to take a first step in tackling poverty: pay staff the real Living Wage’. 

The Centre for Progressive Policy believes that health is foundational to inclusive economic growth and developed a social model of health in their 2019 report Beyond the NHS: addressing the root causes of poor health. The Centre for Progressive Policy also ran a Covid-19 risk ranking during the pandemic which linked mortality to deprived places and has written about the role of the NHS as an anchor employer and importance of tackling obesity for deprived communities.   

Poverty and public health: CPP joins forces with The King's Fund. This blog by the Centre for Progressive Policy outlines why public health and poverty are important for inclusive growth and how they will be collaborating with The King’s Fund.

Key Learnings from CPP & The King's Fund Roundtable on Tackling Poverty. This write up reflects on a joint roundtable, held on 23rd May 2022, which brought together 13 NHS and local government leaders to consider how health and economic development can work together to prevent and reduce poverty.

Measuring chaos: how can data identity and track poverty in health and economic systems. This blog by the Centre for Progressive Policy explores how can data be used to identify and track poverty in health and economic systems and enables local places to see where their area sits on key measures using a set of interactive maps. It draws on a joint workshop held by CPP and The King’s Fund.