IT was quite astonishing to hear Boris Johnson talking last week about the unfairness of a man born in Glasgow or Blackpool living 10 years less than someone from the affluent Home Counties, and that this is why “levelling up” is so important.

He either doesn’t see the irony and hypocrisy of his mumblings, or has not bothered to find out what his government is actually doing.

This government has devised a new formula for allocating public health spending that will see deprived areas in the north seriously disadvantaged. Since the Government transferred responsibility for Public Health from the NHS to local authorities in 2013, County Durham’s Public Health grant has been cut by £7m.

Last year, the Government produced the new ACRA formula for allocating public health grants to local authorities, which seems to take little account of levels of deprivation. Life expectancy in County Durham, a county with some of the most deprived wards in the country, is 78 years for a man and 81.3 years for a woman but their healthy life expectancy is only 59 years.

In Surrey a man can expect to live for 81.4 years and a woman for 84.6 years with a healthy life expectancy of 69 years, a whole 10 years more than for County Durham.

Yet under this new ACRA formula, County Durham stands to lose £18m from its public health grant, while Surrey, one of the most affluent parts of the country, would receive an extra £14m. I wrote to our Tory MP about this last year, asking how the Government could justify such unfairness, and she has not replied.

If inequalities in our country are really going to be tackled then improving public health is fundamental.

It’s far more important than building bypasses or making high streets look prettier. Boris was trying to reassure southern voters that they won’t be disadvantaged in levelling up.

If public health spending is anything to go by then those lucky people in Surrey will soon be in even richer clover. Dr Heather Smith, Hamsterley, Bishop Auckland.