Local public health services at risk amid funding uncertainty

Health / Sun 5th Feb 2023 at 09:51am

DRUG and alcohol treatment, tackling obesity and health visiting are among the vital frontline services at risk of being cut back or closing altogether, unless government urgently sets out public health funding for the next year, councils say today.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils across England, is calling on the Government to urgently publish the Public Health Grant funding allocations which councils will receive from April with time running out for councils to set budgets and spending plans and to make critical decisions on renewing contracts for vital public health services.

A lack of certainty around councils’ public health funding this year is exacerbating existing challenges as demand for support services has risen, such as for sexual health services or drug and addiction support. The LGA said this is leaving these vital services facing an uncertain future and risks people being forced to go without crucial help and support.

It also comes as public health funding grants to councils have been reduced by over £1 billion in real terms from 2015/16 to 2021/22. As pressures on the NHS and social care systems mount, councils are urging the Government to invest in local public health services which can help to reduce challenges on other parts of the health and care system.

Cllr David Baines, Vice-Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Demand for vital treatment including mental health support was high before the pandemic. In the aftermath of COVID-19, it is even more urgent that these services are properly funded.

“Councils are currently in the dark about public health funding and this can’t go on. Residents and our communities need clarity.

“Every pound invested by government in council-run services such as public health helps to relieve pressure on other services like the NHS and the criminal justice system.

“The Government needs to give councils the clarity they need so they can increase investment to protect the health of our local communities over the coming months and years and to ensure all local authorities can continue to meet their public health responsibilities into the future.”

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