Public health funding “below 2015/16 levels”

With just two weeks to go until the end of the financial year, the government finally announced the Public Health grant allocation – how much money councils will have to spend on public health services over 2023/24.

The response from those working in public health – the councils and NHS bodies – can be summed up by that from Professor Jim McManus, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), “once again far too little, far too late.”

The government is giving local authorities a 3.3% cash terms increase to their grants, with the total allocation in 2023/24 up to £3.529 billion. Inflation currently hovers around 10%. In addition, there will be time-limited investment up to 2025 of £516 million going to local authorities to improve drug and alcohol addiction treatment and £170 million to improve the Start for Life services available to families.

However, in the light of the fact that since 2015/16 spending on public health services has fallen by 26%, according to The Health Foundation, this increase does nothing to address the growing need. The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) stated that the allocation:

“represents an inadequate investment in essential public health services at a time when populations across England are in desperate need of support to protect and improve their health.”

Full article in The Lowdown, 24 March 2023