The Public Health Grant announcement, delivered just two weeks before the start of the financial new year, represents an inadequate investment in essential public health services at a time when populations across England are in desperate need of support to protect and improve their health.
The 3.3% increase in funding for 2023/4, and planned increase of 1.3% for 2024/25 leaves local public health teams struggling to maintain essential services such as mental health support and specialist community public health nursing with limited resources.
Despite the serious threats to public health in recent years including the COVID-19 pandemic and current cost of living crisis, Government has consistently failed to invest in critical services delivered by local authorities which are in place to promote health, particularly for vulnerable populations.
Research from the Health Foundation shows that the Public Health Grant has been cut by 24% on a real-terms per person basis since 2015/6, with some of the largest reductions in spend falling for tobacco control, drug and alcohol services, and sexual health services.
Local public health teams have worked tirelessly to deliver for the populations they serve despite this chronic underfunding, but without proper investment Government risks delivery of these services becoming unsustainable.
The Faculty has called for a £1 billion increase in funding to support local public health teams as they deliver vital work to protect and improve health, and has joined with the Association of Directors of Public Health and the Local Government Association in calling for an adequate multi-year settlement for public health.