Government funding for council-commissioned weight management services will not be renewed in the current financial year, councils have been told.
In a letter to council chief executives and directors of public health, Jonathan Marron, Director of the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities, has said that funding for weight management services would not be available in 2022/23 because government was ‘reallocating resources to maintain defences against COVID-19’.
The letter asserted that the Government remained ‘committed to supporting people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight’, and recognised that some councils may be able to continue to commission services using existing funding streams.
However, there are concerns that the move will mean a number of councils will have to scrap weight management programmes for the next year, because of the lack of long-term funding certainty.
Cllr Louise Gittins, Vice-Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “More than two-thirds of adults in England are currently overweight or obese and council-commissioned weight management services have been a vital way of tackling this growing issue in local communities.
“It is therefore extremely regrettable that funding for these services has not been extended for 2022/23.
“This decision will result in the closure of some existing weight management programmes, restricting the ability councils have to improve health outcomes in their local areas and increasing the pressure on the heath and care system further down the line.
“The pandemic has widened health inequalities and people with obesity are much more likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19 and other illnesses.
“It is only by working together between national and local government that we can tackle this issue and improve the life chances of people in our local communities.”