Health inequality among Southampton residents will be addressed with £5 million in public funding following a joint bid from the city’s universities and council.

The cash comes from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and will fund research from January.

The project brings together academic research from Solent University and the University of Southampton, along with the knowledge of the city council, in a bid to address health inequalities in key community groups over the next five years.

Southampton Voluntary Services will also be involved in the collaboration.

These partnerships will come under the umbrella of a Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC), which has already been funded in 11 local authorities in the UK.

The HDRC initiative was described by the NIHR as a tool to “equip” communities with “a lasting legacy of research culture to help local populations take important steps forward in tackling health inequalities."

Dr Shelley Duncan, a health researcher at Solent, said: “This award provides an excellent opportunity to accelerate evidence-based policy and practice to reduce health inequalities within Southampton.

Professor Janis Baird, at the University of Southampton, said that “building expertise and capacity in the council team” is “vital” for addressing health inequality, and that the “University of Southampton is delighted to be a partner in this work."

The deputy leader of Southampton City Council, Lorna Feilker, also hailed the new funding.

She said: "This funding will enable us to focus on understanding the root causes of poor health and wellbeing which in turn will help us devise policies that can really make a difference to people’s lives across the city.”