Councils’ public health funding grant will be maintained but not increased in 2021 – a decision labelled “extremely short-sighted” by the LGA in its response to last month’s Spending Review.
The LGA has warned repeatedly that local authorities’ public health funding has reduced by more than £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2020/21.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has exposed existing health inequalities that need to be levelled up if councils are to protect local communities in the future, it said.
The virus has disproportionately impacted certain groups of people, such as those who are overweight or obese, diabetic or with other physical and mental health conditions.
By intervening earlier and helping to prevent some of these conditions from developing in the first place, more lives could have been saved – a point made by Peers in a recent report on the lessons to be learned from the pandemic.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils’ public health teams have been leading the local response to coronavirus, all the while trying to keep essential services like drug and alcohol treatment running on limited resources.
“No new public health funding, despite this incredibly challenging period, runs contrary to addressing the stark health inequalities exposed by COVID-19 and levelling up our communities.
“Keeping people healthy and well throughout their lives reduces pressure on the NHS and social care.”