William Eichler 26 October 2022

Public health budget slashed by a quarter, charity reveals

Public health budget slashed by a quarter, charity reveals image
Image: Doubletree Studio/Shutterstock.com.

A charity has warned against further cuts to public health budgets as a new analysis reveals that austerity measures under successive Conservative governments have hit the poorest areas the hardest.

The Health Foundation issued the warning alongside the publication of the charity’s new analysis that found that the public health grant has been cut by 24% on a real-terms per capita basis since 2015/16.

The cut falls more heavily on those living in the most deprived areas of England, who also tend to have poorer health, according to the charity.

In Blackpool, for example, the most deprived local authority in the country, the per capita cut to the public health grant has been one of the largest at £42 per person per year.

The reduction in funding for the public health grant affects some services more than others, the charity’s analysis reveals.

Stop smoking services and tobacco control, for example. have seen the greatest real terms fall in funding, with a 41% reduction. There have also been significant real terms reductions for drug and alcohol services (28%) and sexual health services (23%).

The charity said that a whole-government strategy to improve health and reduce health inequalities is ‘desperately needed’.

Jo Bibby, director of health at the Health Foundation, said: ‘The UK is in the midst of an economic crisis that has significant consequences for the nation’s health. As the Government scrambles to balance the books ahead of the fiscal plan, there are worrying signs that public services could face further cuts.

‘Any more cuts could have long-lasting impacts on people’s health and further entrench health inequalities. There is a 19-year gap in the number of years a girl born in the most deprived 10% of areas can expect to live in good health compared with a girl born in the least deprived areas.

‘Opportunities to prevent the early deterioration of health are being missed. If the Government fails to fund vital preventive services, people’s health will continue to erode, and the costs of dealing with this poor health will be felt across society and the economy.’

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