Despite councils’ good work, the current funding model is not sustainable. Local authorities’ public health grant funding has reduced by over £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20.
- Councils play a vital role in commissioning and providing vital public health services for their communities. Since the transfer of public health to local government in 2013, councils across England have seized the opportunity to transform public health.
- Devolving public health to the local level was a positive step. By joining up care, health, housing, transport, welfare and education, councils have made positive strides in improving the social determinants of health and wellbeing.
- Despite councils’ good work, the current funding model is not sustainable. Local authorities’ public health grant funding has reduced by over £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20.
- It is positive that the Government has issued its firm commitment to the NHS Long-Term Plan, with prevention put very much at its heart and a forthcoming prevention Green Paper. It is, however, short-sighted to accompany this with reductions to public health services.
- Investing in prevention saves money for other parts of the public sector by reducing demand for the NHS and social care services. It is also more effective in improving people’s health. Reductions in the public health budget will only prove counterproductive to both the public purse and health outcomes.
- The forthcoming prevention Green Paper should allow us to explore the benefits of prevention from a system-wide perspective which includes all the social determinants of health. Any proposals must be based on engagement with councils and with the public health community.
- There will be an £8 billion shortfall facing councils by 2025. A range of services that contribute to health and wellbeing are significantly underfunded, including housing, leisure, and green spaces. It is vital that the Government uses the 2019 Spending Review to deliver truly sustainable funding for public health and local government.
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Health and local public health cuts, House of Commons, 14 May 2019