Responding to a report by Pulse Magazine which suggests that nine out of 10 councils have reduced spending on sexual health, alcohol misuse and weight management services this year, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“These findings are not unexpected. Despite budget reductions, councils are determined to maintain vital public health services to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives, but the reality is that many local authorities are having to make difficult decisions on these key services, including stopping them altogether.
“Councils are having to carefully consider how best they can spend their public health funding, which has been reduced by £600 million from 2015/16 to 2019/20 by central government, to maximise cost effectiveness and improve health outcomes.
“Early intervention and prevention work by councils to tackle teenage pregnancy, child obesity, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse, is vital to improve the public’s health. Not only does it reduce the risk of people having their lives shortened by conditions such as heart and liver disease, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes, but it also keeps the pressure off the NHS and adult social care.
“We have repeatedly argued that reductions to councils’ public health budgets is short-sighted and needs to be reversed otherwise they will undermine the objectives we all share to improve the public’s health.
“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.
“Any extra funding for the NHS should also include public health funding for councils as the two are so intrinsically linked.”