The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has raised serious concerns about the UK Government’s commitment to public health with the apparent refusal to consider supporting public health apprenticeships in the upcoming budget.
In the run up to Wednesday’s budget, CIEH made three separate submissions to the Chancellor’s Spending Review. One alongside the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), another with the Local Government Association (LGA), and a final submission in coalition with the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH).
CIEH’s submissions included the call for the UK Government to implement the recommendations of its own Cross Government Review and highlighted the need to create a ring-fenced bursary scheme of £14m for local authorities to recruit new Regulatory Compliance Officer (RCO) apprentices.
CIEH contributed to the Cross Government Regulatory Services Working Group conducted by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). The Working Group, originally set up to review the work of the regulatory services professions during the COVID-19 pandemic, was instrumental in helping local government to protect the public by supporting businesses and communities with trading standards and environmental health expertise. Without this expertise, the journey out of lockdown would not have been so efficient, nor the return back to post-COVID working so smooth.
However, having worked so closely with the Government on this review, and its recommendations, CIEH is disappointed to learn that the call to support public health apprenticeships within local authorities may not have been considered by the Treasury.
Julie Barratt, CIEH President, said: “We have worked hand in hand with DLUHC for 9 months on the Working Group’s vital review of regulatory services, championing the role of public and environmental health professionals in combatting COVID-19. As such we strongly supported the Working Group’s own recommendation of supporting public health apprenticeships within local authorities.
Considering the key role public health professionals played in the pandemic, we are deeply concerned by rumours from within government that the Treasury will not be considering these recommendations.
This is especially confusing in light of the very limited funding required to meet this commitment and how it aligns closely with the Government’s own levelling-up agenda.
We have written to both the new Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, urging them to show their support for public health across our country and support our call for apprenticeships.”