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Councils in dark about public health funding

The ability of local councils to protect and improve the health of the people they serve is being undermined because they do not know what their public health budgets will be in just a few weeks’ time, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

The LGA has raised concerns that local authorities are still waiting to be told their individual public health funding settlements for 2016/17 and 2017/18. The budgets will be used for vital public health services such as teenage pregnancy, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse.

Commenting on the delay, Professor Simon Capewell, Vice President for Policy at the Faculty of Public Health, said: "This is a further blow for public health funding for local authorities, which has already been hit by 20% cuts, with worse to come. Yet public health interventions are hugely cost-saving, and offer returns on investment of £5, £10 and even £100 for every pound spent. The cuts are thus very bad news for people’s health, because there will be less money for vital services like children’s services, health visitors, sexual health services and drug treatment. The cuts also undermine the government’s much trumpeted efforts to prevent ill health.
“Councils had, quite reasonably, expected to know what their budgets would be before Christmas, so that they would have three months to plan how best to use their more limited budgets effectively. This delay is making it even harder for dedicated public servants to make the best use of public funding. We urgently need clarification about the funding settlement; it is in everyone's interests for the necessary decisions about the settlement to be made as soon as possible."

Written: 05/02/2016 , last modified: 16/03/2016