The local authority grant for public health has been cut by nearly £100 million for 2019/20.
The total budget provided to local authorities will be reduced from £3.215 billion in 2018/2019 to £3.134 billion in 2019/2020. The local authority circular sets out the allocations and conditions for using the grant. The local authorities in Greater Manchester piloting business rates retention will not receive grant from the government and are therefore not governed by the grant conditions.
The reduction in funding has caused concern from professional organisations, who say services such as sexual health and smoking cessation, both provided by local authorities are already under strain.
‘Ongoing cuts to public health budgets could torpedo the Secretary of State’s aim to prioritise preventative services,’ said Helen Donovan, Professional Lead for Public Health at the Royal College of Nursing. ‘Keeping people healthy for longer is better for patients and their families, and saves money by reducing pressure on hospital services. Slashing budgets will have a huge impact on areas such as smoking cessation, obesity services and sexual health clinics, and risks undoing the good work of the past decade.’