Public health to stay with councils

Announcing the decision at the LGA’s Councillors’ Forum in June, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock praised the “comprehensive, compelling and clear” evidence provided by councils.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “We are delighted that the Secretary of State has accepted the LGA’s powerful case for councils to keep their vital role and valued responsibilities for providing public health services.

“Councils have worked hard to provide and commission these services, including sexual health clinics, drug and alcohol treatment services and health visitors, despite facing reductions of £700 million to their public health grant between 2015/16 and 2019/20.”

The decision came ahead of a joint report by two health charities, The King’s Fund and Health Foundation, which called for £1 billion a year to reverse cuts in public health funding.

Cllr Hudspeth said: “This analysis echoes our own calls for public health funding reductions to be reversed, in order to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives. Councils are determined to maintain vital public health services, but the reality is that many local authorities are having to make difficult decisions on these key services.

“Further reductions to the public health budget reinforce 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.

“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.”

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