Economic recession must not be allowed to derail government spending on a health and social equalities agenda, according to Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who says the test of every policy should be whether it improves all our lives.
Marmot is now held in universally high regard following reports in England and at the global level on social inequalities, including deprivation, poor education and unemployment, that predict the shorter life-spans of the worst-off in society. The coalition government is doing all it can to claim it is onside with Marmot and his ideas, and is set to announce that it is to help to fund his new institute - the UCL Institute of Health Equity.
But there is every sign that Marmot, for all his careful academic language, could cause them headaches. A deteriorating economic situation, he believes, is no excuse for allowing the Treasury to veto policies that could improve lives. He cites early childhood development in particular, but would like every policy in national and local government tested for its positive impact on health - a better indicator of people's wellbeing than the happiness which people currently try to measure.