Today's public health grant announcement provides some certainty, but more investment is needed over the longer-term Health Foundation response to the public health grant allocations

17 March 2020

In response to the announcement of the public health grant allocations 2021-21, David Finch, Senior Fellow at the Health Foundation, said: 

‘It is good news that year-on-year cuts to the public health grant have come to an end, and the 2.6% real term increase announced today is a welcome improvement on the settlement that had been expected. However, the £80 million above inflation increase announced today still leaves the grant at 22% lower on a real term per capita basis than in 2015/16 and says nothing about future allocations. The late confirmation and lack of a long settlement has made it difficult for local authorities to plan effectively.

‘Local authority public health teams have a vital part to play in the national response to COVID-19, working alongside the health care service. The current situation reinforces the need for a properly funded, resilient local public health system.

‘The grant also supports local authorities to deliver vital preventative and treatment services, including help to stop smoking, children’s health services, sexual health clinics and drug and alcohol services. In the longer term, public health funding is therefore of crucial importance to address the stalling of improvements in life expectancy and widening of health inequalities highlighted in The Marmot Review 10 Years On.

‘While today’s grant provides some much-needed certainty for the next year, looking ahead the government should restore the grant to 2015/16 levels by investing an extra £1 billion a year and then ensure that the grant keeps pace with growth in NHS England spend.’

Notes to editors

Public health grant allocations have fallen in real terms from £4.0 billion in 2015-16 to £3.2 billion in 2020/21. On a per head basis that equates to a 22% cut since initial allocations were made in 2015/16, falling from £72.50 per head down to £56.70 per head in 2020/21.

The government today announced a £145m cash increase in the public health grant for 2020/21. That is an additional £60m cash increase on the £85m funding suggested at the Spending Round 2019.

In real terms, accounting for inflation using the latest OBR published GDP deflator that equates to an £80m real term increase in the public health grant between 2019/20 and 2020/21.

Media contact

Diana Mackie
Diana.Mackie@health.org.uk
020 7257 8039

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