Vital environmental health services have been pushed to a ‘tipping point’ and further cuts could lead to food poisoning outbreaks and a rise in antisocial behaviour.
The warning comes after an 18-month investigation by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) into the impacts of council cutbacks.
Almost half of environmental health managers said resources are ‘only just adequate to provide a basic statutory service’ and further cuts are likely to mean an end to services such as pest control and monitoring air quality.
Innovation and partnership working have enabled many services to continue but there is ‘no further room for manoeuvre, said the CIEH.
The average budget for environmental health services fell by 6.8% in real terms between 2013-14 and 2014-15 and is expected to drop by a further 30% this year.
Graham Jukes, chief executive of the CIEH, said: ‘Government policy is to focus on reducing the long-term costs to the NHS by encouraging preventative health actions and environmental health services are on the frontline of that agenda.
‘Local councils, however, have borne the brunt of the Government's social and economic change programme over the past five years and this has meant essential environmental health services are at a tipping point.????
‘Environmental health managers cannot continue to support the Government's change agenda under continued budgetary attrition or else there is the very real risk that events like food poisoning outbreaks, fires in multi-occupied housing or increased antisocial behaviour will become increasingly prevalent and more expensive to deal with.’