In May 1994 it was announced that the government was to set up an inquiry into links between social inequality and ill health. The decision came only two years after the publication of The Health of the Nation White Paper (1992), which had outlined health strategy for the 1990s. In this document the government had refused to accept such a link, seeing improvements in health as a matter of individual responsibility rather than associated with structural problems within society. The announcement marked a recognition that social factors ‘such as housing, unemployment, education and benefit levels have a bearing on the nation’s health-a view denied during the Thatcher years’ (Guardian 4 May 1995). The first Thatcher government had regarded with scepticism the findings of an important new study, known as the Black Report, when it strongly argued such a connection in 1980. Its recommendations had been dismissed as ‘quite unrealistic in present or any foreseeable economic circumstances’ (Townsend and Davidson 1982:39).