A cut to councils’ public health grants has been criticised by the Local Government Association (LGA) for being ‘short-sighted and extremely counter-productive’.
The Government said it would be investing more than £16bn in public health over the five years of the 2015 Spending Review, including £3.215bn in 2018/19, but the LGA pointed out this represents a cut of £531m between 2015/16 and 2019/20.
Chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: ‘Today’s announcement confirms that councils’ public health budgets will continue to face significant spending reductions over the next two years.
‘The Government announced an extra £2.8bn for the NHS in the Autumn Budget, but to then take vital money away from the services which can be used to prevent illness and the need for treatment later down the line and ease the pressure on the NHS is extremely counterproductive.
‘Cutting the public health budget is short-sighted and will undermine the objectives we all share to improve the public’s health and keep the pressure off the NHS and adult social care.
‘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, child obesity, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse cannot be seen as an added extra for health budgets.
‘Local authorities were eager to pick up the mantle of public health in 2013 but many will now feel that they have been handed all of the responsibility but without the appropriate resources to do so.’