People are being urged to take greater responsibility for their own health, with the Government offering a “nudge” in the right direction under new plans.
The public health White Paper aims to “empower communities”, with strong leadership from local government on issues such as exercise, obesity and smoking.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley set out a vision of public health that will see a new body established – Public Health England – to lead national strategies including vaccination programmes, the response to flu pandemics, cancer screening and adult health checks.
Local authorities will work on “health improvement strategies” and target money where it is needed in communities, he said.
Councils will receive a slice of a ring-fenced public health budget from April 2013, which will total at least £4 billion a year.
There has been criticism in the past over NHS trusts raiding public health finances to plug deficits and gaps in other services.
Public health directors will be moved to councils to work as “champions” of healthy living, using experts in housing, transport and open spaces to provide a co-ordinated approach.
A Health Inclusion Board, chaired by Professor Steve Field from the Royal College of GPs, will look into the causes of deprivation and health inequalities.
A new public health “premium” payment will be introduced, to reward councils that tackle inequalities between different groups in society.
Mr Lansley came under fire in the summer when he announced that firms such as Mars, Cadbury and Coca-Cola would take on a bigger role in funding anti-obesity campaigns.