Economies for Healthier Lives A new funding programme to strengthen relationships between economic development and health

Economies for healthier lives social card

This programme is closed for applications.

  • A £1.72m funding programme to support partnerships to promote health and reduce health inequalities through economic development strategies.
  • The Economies for Healthier Lives programme will support three to four partnerships across the UK with funding of between £300,000 and £500,000 for up to three years.
  • Partnerships will be led by a local authority or a statutory regional body and will bring together a range of organisations including an academic and collaboration partner.
  • Expressions of interest are now closed. We have invited nine teams to submit a full application for the programme. 

The Health Foundation is launching a new funding programme to strengthen relationships between economic development and health. 

Good health has social and economic value for individuals, society and the economy. It is an enabler of the prosperous and flourishing societies that governments strive to achieve. People’s health relies not only on health care, but also on their economic circumstances – income, wealth, whether they have a job, and the type of work they do. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the strong links between the economy and health. It has not been a ‘great leveller’ but rather is having an unequal impact on our already unequal society. 

As we seek to rebuild the economy post-pandemic and ‘level up’ UK regions, there is an opportunity to create more inclusive economies geared towards reducing inequalities and improving health. This is set out in our recent report Using economic development to improve health and reduce health inequalities.

Through this programme, we will support local and regional partnerships to implement some of the ideas in that report by integrating economic development activity with work to improve health and/or reduce health inequalities.  

We are aware of the pressure the pandemic is putting on local areas and a decision to go ahead with the programme launch was not taken lightly. On balance, we felt that a decision to launch in 2020 rather than delaying until spring 2021 would better fit with timelines for local economic recovery planning. We have considered capacity concerns by designing a light-touch expression of interest process and allowing two months for expressions of interest to be developed. We will consult applicants on timing before confirming timelines for subsequent assessment stages. 

Invitation to apply

We are inviting local and regional partnerships to apply for funding of between £300,000 and £500,000 over three years, to use economic development activity as a mechanism to improve health and/or reduce health inequalities.  

Partnerships will be led by a local authority or combined authority (lead partner) and should also include: 

  • public health bodies and leaders (where this responsibility sits outside of the local authority)  
  • an academic partner (most likely a university, but this does not have to be the case)  
  • a specialist partner that can provide additional topic or community engagement expertise (this could be a national representative body, a voluntary and community sector organisation or a business). 

We would expect partnership plans to include joint working across public health and economic development functions. Further information can be found in the Call for applications. 

Information webinar

Our pre-recorded webinar introduces the programme, details what we are looking for in applications, provides advice on how to apply and answers pre-submitted questions. 

Watch the webinar below or read our summary of key points.


How to apply

Important: All applicants must read the Call for applications in full before submitting an expression of interest.   

There will be three stages to the application process for this programme.  

1. Expressions of interest  

Expressions of interest closed on 29 January 2021.

2. Full applications  

We have invited nine partnerships from the expression of interest phase to submit a full application for the programme by 12.00 (midday) on Friday 4 June 2021.  

The full application must be submitted on our applicant portal by the same applicant that submitted the expression of interest. For support with any technical issues with the applicant portal, please contact    

3. Interviews  

We aim to hold interviews with shortlisted partnerships in July 2021. Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, the interview process will be confirmed closer to the time.  

Interview panels will include external experts and Health Foundation staff.  


We will consult applicants before confirming timings for subsequent assessment stages. Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, interviews will be confirmed closer to the time.  

Expressions of interest open Monday 9 November 2020
Deadline for expressions of interest 12.00 (midday) Friday 29 January 2021
Invitation to submit full applications Monday 29 March 2021
Deadline for full applications Friday 4 June 2021 
Invitation to interview w/c Monday 12 July 2021 
Interview w/c Monday 19 July 2021 
Teams notified of final decision Friday 30 July 2021


Further reading

Research report

Using economic development to improve health and reduce health inequalities

September 2020
Research report

This report sets out how economic development can be used to improve people’s health and reduce...

Tackling health inequalities: how the government can do things differently to build back better

15 September 2021

Is now a golden opportunity to truly improve cross-government working? Gwen Nightingale and Katherine Merrifield take a look at why joining up is vital to addressing health inequalities.

Universal Credit cut will hit areas with the worst health hardest

Press release
10 September 2021

Health Foundation response to the end of the £20 universal credit uplift.

What will the end of the Universal Credit uplift mean for areas of poor health?

7 September 2021

The end of the £20 increase to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit in October 2021 has the potential to further widen health inequalities, with areas which already have the lowest healthy life exp...

Welcome recognition that we must support people to live healthier lives

Press release
3 September 2021

Health Foundation response to the Department for Health and Social Care’s announcement of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) to drive improvement of the nation’s health. 

COVID-19 impact inquiry evidence library


A collaborative resource to showcase submissions from the inquiry's Call for evidence.  

Young people say their prospects are dwindling and wellbeing suffering in the wake of the pandemic

Press release
24 August 2021

A survey of young people conducted by the Health Foundation has revealed the extent to which young people feel their employment prospects and mental health have been negatively impacted by the pandemi...

A collaboration for better and more equitable health

11 August 2021

How will the Collaboration for Wellbeing and Health change the conversation about what makes us healthy and influence national policy? Cathy Irving explains.

Five things we learnt from our work on the health and wellbeing of lower paid NHS staff

Newsletter feature
29 July 2021

The NHS has both a significant opportunity and a responsibility to improve the health and wellbeing of its workforce. What about lower paid staff?  

Local approaches to levelling up: a spotlight on Calderdale

Newsletter feature
29 July 2021

Robin Tuddenham gives us a local perspective on what the levelling up health agenda means for communities in West Yorkshire.

Five key findings from our COVID-19 impact inquiry

Newsletter feature
29 July 2021

We summarise key insights from the COVID-19 impact inquiry report. 

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