Social inclusion UK agenda
In this section of the resource you can:
- discover some of the key aspects of the UK social inclusion agenda in the overview below
- find information on relevant agencies and communities
- check credible sources for guidance
- track the social inclusion programme in the UK in the policy section.
"Social inclusion must come down to somewhere to live, something to do and someone to love. It's as simple - and as complicated as that" (Fraser 2003, cited in Grove 2008, p.2 footnote 1).
The United Kingdom, in common with the European Union, is pursuing an agenda aimed explicitly at health equity and the reduction of health inequalities. The strategies are characterised by a growing awareness that health inequalities are not simply a matter of negative lifestyle choices. “Economic inequality is the principal driver of social exclusion, underpinning and compounding exclusionary processes operating along other dimensions - social, cultural and political. Together these processes drive health inequality: evidence suggests that health inequalities cannot be substantially reduced without reducing economic inequality” (Piachaud et al 2009, p.55)
Understanding these multiple socio-economic determinants of health has led to the realisation that health status cannot be tackled by the health sector alone. More countries are adopting a "Health in all Policies" approach, integrating health considerations into other policy areas such as employment and social cohesion (European Commission 2013).
The influence of the Marmot Review has been far reaching in bringing together the evidence on the social determinants of health. The central tenet of the Review is that "health inequalities that could be avoided by reasonable means are unfair. Putting them right is a matter of social justice" (Marmot 2010, p.3). The review identifies six key policy objectives and has led to the formation of an Institute of Health Equity based at University College London (University College London 2013) which brings together work and projects continuing from the review, and related work including the European Review of Social Determinants and the Health Divide in the WHO European Region (World Health Organization 2011).
The use of the terms social exclusion and social inclusion and how they are being used by policy makers is also the subject of debate (Levitas 2003; Hickey and Du Toit 2007; Spandler 2007). Of main concern is that social inclusion omits to question "the kind of society into which people are to be included" (Levitas 2003, para 21) and that social inclusion may, paradoxically, become another way in which people are regulated socially and morally (Spandler 2007). “The more a group is marginalized, the more vulnerable it is” (World Health Organization, p.28).
Despite the shifting terminology there is acknowledgement that socially inclusive approaches are essential to reducing inequalities – “we cannot live in a society in which health is equal for all. We can live in an inclusive society that limits inequality, in which all who need it have the opportunity to be employed, and in which the diversity of human conditions is catered for, and even celebrated” (Piachaud et al 2009, p.56).
The items in this reference list are available online. They were last accessed on 3 April 2013.
Some of them are in PDF format - see how to access PDF files.
European Commission (2013) Health in all policies. European Commission Public Health website.
Fraser C (2003) Evidence to the MIND Inquiry 'Creating accepting communities', cited in Grove, G (2008) Mental capital and wellbeing: making the most of ourselves in the 21st century: state-of-science review: Factors influencing recovery from serious mental illness and enhancing participation in family, social and working life (PDF 184.45KB), (Commissioned as part of the UK Government's Foresight Project). London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Hickey S, Du Toit A (2007) Adverse incorporation, social inclusion and chronic poverty (CPRC working paper 81), Manchester: Chronic Poverty Resource Centre, University of Manchester Institute for Development Policy and Management.
Levitas R (2003) The idea of social inclusion, in Social Inclusion Research Conference: What do we know and where do we go? Building a social inclusion research agenda, Ottawa March 27-28 2003. Canadian Council on Social Development website.
Marmot M (2010) Fair society, healthy lives. Strategic review of health inequalities in England post 2010, London: Marmot Review.
Piachaud D et al (2009) Social Inclusion and Social Mobility Task Group Report (report of an expert group providing evidence to the Marmot Review 'Fair society healthy lives'), London: Marmot Review. Made available on the website of the UCL Institute of Health Equity.
Spandler H (2007) From social exclusion to inclusion? A critique of the inclusion imperative in mental health, Medical Sociology Online, 2(2) November, pp.3-16.
University College London (2013) UCL Institute of Health Equity website.
World Health Organization (2011) Interim second report on social determinants of health and the health divide in the WHO European Region – Executive summary, Copenhagen: WHO.