Responding to the LGA’s call today to urgently publish the Public Health Grant funding allocations, David Finch, Assistant Director of Healthy Lives at the Health Foundation, said:
‘The pandemic, and the response to it, have highlighted the extent of poor underlying health in the UK and further exposed the unacceptable level of inequality in our society. In the UK we have seen higher excess deaths compared to the rest of Europe and, among our working age population, deaths from COVID-19 were nearly four times higher in the most deprived areas than in the least deprived.
‘At this crucial moment for the nation’s health, councils need certainty on public health funding to ensure that their plans are effective at improving health and focused on those most in need. Government funding for the public health grant, which pays for locally provided public health services, is set to be maintained in real terms for the next three years. But this won’t cover the increased public health need that has built up over the pandemic. Nor will it reverse the 24% real terms per capita cut to the grant since 2015/16, which equates to £1bn budget reduction. The most deprived areas have experienced the greatest cuts even though people in those areas tend to have poorer health.
‘It is vital that we are enabling councils to effectively plan future public health provision. They cannot do this without knowing how much they have to spend. However, it is also clear that greater government investment in the grant is urgently needed to ensure that we have a public health system that is resilient enough to cope with future health emergencies and one that can effectively contribute to reducing health inequalities.’
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