Government cuts Plymouth’s Public Health funding by £920,000

Cuts to Public Health funding of nearly £920,000 which have been confirmed by the Government, will disadvantage Plymouth even further.

Plymouth already receives considerably less Public Health funding per head than other areas, but the Government has announced that the city will receive a further in-year cut of 6.2% which equates to £919,198.

It forms part of a £200m cut from local authority public health budgets nationally, and comes despite cross-party lobbying to protect Plymouth City Council’s public health funding, much of which is used to fund local health services.

Councillor Sue McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, and Public Health for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are very disappointed with the Government’s decision to bring in an across the board cut to public health funding halfway through the financial year. This will put further pressure on health and social care in the city, when we have already been identified by the Government as a ‘challenged’ health economy.

“Although the current cut will be absorbed by the Public Health department which has underspent in other areas, that is still £920,000 that could have been spent on improving local health services.

“We are already under-funded by approximately £3m per year. Plymouth already receives considerably less Public Health funding than other local authority areas, with just £47 per head of population compared with £77 per head for Portsmouth, £67 for Brighton and Hove, and £136 for Kensington and Chelsea.

“This under-funding persists despite the fact that complex health challenges in Plymouth mean that for 13 of the 32 health indicators in the Public Health England Health Profile, Plymouth has a worse than national average outcome.”

Examples of projects Plymouth City Council’s Public Health department could fund with a fair allocation of funding and without the additional £920,000 cut:

  • More stop smoking support in secondary schools
  • Employ more school nurses to support more young people
  • More support to eradicate food poverty in Plymouth
  • Improve sexual health and substance misuse services in the city
  • Training of volunteer Health Champions
  • Improving take-up of NHS Health Checks

Councillor Ian Tuffin, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “In addition, a few months ago Plymouth was recently announced along with the rest of the NEW Devon area, to take part in the ‘Success Regime’ which works with challenged health economies, so it has been recognised that more, not less support is needed here.
“Public health funding and a preventative health approach is an essential resource to help local health services and it is frustrating that we are being dealt this extra blow, which will have an impact on frontline NHS services including stop smoking and sexual health services, which are commissioned by the Council.

“Without the ability to fund more preventative measures, it is hard to see how we can take these cuts whilst trying to protect frontline health services.”

In July, the Council’s Leader, Councillor Tudor Evans, wrote to both Chancellor George Osborne and Jan Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, to ask them to rethink plans to cut £200m from public health budgets. Tudor was also joined in the campaign to protect public health funding in Plymouth by Councillor Ian Bowyer, Leader of the Opposition.

Councillor McDonald added: “As a council we will continue to lobby central Government for fairer funding for Public Health to address our missing millions.”