Glasgow & West Scotland

Commission to tackle £4.6bn cost of poor health in Glasgow

Glasgow's George Square
Image caption Glasgow City Council will unveil its new economic strategy in full next year

A new group has been set up to tackle sickness and deprivation in Glasgow - problems which are thought to lose the city £4.6bn in productivity each year.

The health and inequality commission is one of the initiatives in Glasgow City Council's new economic strategy.

It will aim to ensure that the city's workforce is "fit and healthy enough to fill the jobs that will be created".

The commission was announced to businesses attending the 18th "State of the City Economy Conference".

In his speech to the conference, council leader Frank McAveety said that bringing Glasgow's productivity up to the UK average would be worth an additional £4.6bn to the city's economy.

'Below average'

"Like other major UK cities, our productivity falls well below the UK average," he said.

"Given what we know about the potential of cities to drive growth, this cannot be allowed to continue."

Outlining the scale of the problem, Councillor McAveety said: "Glasgow has a higher share of working aged residents than the Scottish average.

"However, we also have the third largest share of inactive working age residents, in large part a consequence of poor health.

"There is no point developing skills and creating opportunities for business if we do not have a workforce that is fit and healthy enough to fill the jobs that will be created."

Image copyright Glasgow City Council
Image caption Mr McAveety also wants more powers devolved from the Scottish government

He told delegates at the conference that the city's "poor health" was "one of the obvious and awkward barriers to economic activity".

Councillor McAveety added: "I have appointed a health and inequality commission with a remit extending beyond the council offices I control.

"We need to foster a cross-body approach which tackles our city's poor health and creates a healthy workforce, capable of securing personally-rewarding jobs for themselves and their families, and contributing to the sort of economic growth in the city that we are aiming for."

Elsewhere, councillor McAveety called on the Scottish government to devolve more powers to the city.

He said that the "Glasgow's city region" effectively had "two governments intent on pursuing their own agendas".

He said it would be better if more responsibility for issues such as skills development was entrusted to "a more localised body" rather that "distant, national bodies".

The council intends to launch its new economic strategy next year.

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