Local authorities left uninformed about health budgets

The Local Government Association (LGA) has criticised the government for failing to inform councils on how much funding they can expect to receive, allowing them little time to strategise budget plans for vital public health services.

The LGA declared that despite councils only having a few weeks to decide on their budgets, the government is yet to inform them of their exact public health funding settlements for 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Originally, councils had previously hoped to find out ahead of Christmas, but will now struggle to make appropriate funding decisions within deadlines, when their settlements are eventually released.

The news comes as councils are already expecting a £330m reduction in public health spend between 2016-21, with a further £200m cut announced in the recent Spending Review.

In response to the delayed sharing of figures, Andrew Furber, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), said: “The reductions in funding are going to be hard and the uncertainty makes it much more difficult to plan appropriately.”

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, LGA public health spokesperson, said: “Councils have been left in the dark by the government as the wait goes on for them to find out their individual public health funding settlements for the next two years and beyond.

“This means they're unable to plan how and where they spend money and allocate resources, leading to uncertainty about vital prevention services such as tackling teenage pregnancy, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse.”