Two health charities are calling on the Government to reverse the £1bn a year cuts to public health grants.
The Health Foundation and The King’s Fund said the likely delay to the spending review means the Government should signal its intention to restore cuts immediately to protect vital preventative services.
The charities are also calling for additional funding to help local authorities reduce health inequalities and avert the onset of disease.
David Finch, senior fellow at the Health Foundation, said: ‘With the government’s Spending Review very likely to be delayed, there is little chance that we will see a long-term funding decision on the public health grant within the year.
’The Government must commit to addressing the grant’s long-term funding and head-off next year’s scheduled cut. The long-term consequences of further eroding people’s health are likely to prove far more costly than the short term savings.’
Analysis by the Health Foundation shows that the grant is now £850m lower in real-terms than initial allocations in 2015/16. With population growth factored in, £1bn will be needed to restore funding to 2015/16 levels, according to estimates.
In response, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: 'Further reductions to the public health budget reinforces the view that central government sees prevention services as nice-to-do but ultimately non-essential. Interventions to tackle teenage pregnancy, air quality, child obesity, sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse cannot be seen as an added extra for health budgets.'