Kings Fund - Big cuts planned to public health budgets
Central government cuts have forced councils to reduce planned spending on vital public health services such as sexual health clinics and reducing harm from smoking, alcohol and drugs by £85 million, according to new analysis by The King’s Fund.
The analysis, based on Department of Communities and Local Government data, shows that councils in England are planning to spend £3.4 billion on public health services in 2017/18. But on a like-for-like basis (to exclude the impact of changes to how budgets are calculated over different years) councils will spend only £2.52 billion on public health services in 2017/18 compared to £2.60 billion the previous year. Once inflation is factored in, we estimate that, on a like-for-like basis, planned public health spending is more than 5 per cent less in 2017/18 than it was in 2013/14 .
While the figures show that councils are planning to spend more on some services – including on promoting physical activity and on some children’s services – most services are planned to be cut. This includes reducing spending on:
- sexual health services by £30 million compared to last year, a 5 per cent cut
- tackling drug misuse in adults by more than £22 million, a 5.5 per cent cut
- stop smoking services by almost £16 million, a 15 per cent cut.
Many services that face spending cuts this year have already had to cope with successive years of falling budgets. Planned spending on sexual health services, for example, has fallen by £64 million, or by 10 per cent, over the past four years. This is despite significant increases in recent years in the number of cases of some sexually transmitted infections including syphilis and gonorrhoea.
These reductions follow government cuts in public health funding of at least £600 million by 2020/21, on top of £200 million already cut from the 2015/16 budget . This is despite Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt highlighting in parliament last year that making good progress on public health often has the biggest effect on health inequalities.
David Buck, Senior Fellow in Public Health and Inequalities at The King’s Fund, said:
‘These planned cuts in services are the result of central government funding cuts that are increasingly forcing councils to make difficult choices about which services they fund.
‘Reducing spending on public health is short-sighted at the best of times. But at a time when the rate of syphilis is at its highest level for 70 years, to cut spending on sexual health services is the falsest of false economies and is storing up problems for the future.
‘The government must reverse these cuts and ensure councils get adequate resources to fund vital public health services.’
Notes to editors:
- The overall public health budget increased between 2016/17 and 2017/18. However, this is affected by changes to what is classed as public health spending – in mid-2015/16 local government took on responsibility for young children’s public health and received a transfer of approximately £400 million from the NHS to fund this (rising to approximately £800 million in subsequent years). This is not growth but a transfer of funds to pay for additional responsibilities. Our analysis of changes in budgets since 2013/14 looks at like-for-like growth excluding the impact of these transfers (ie, excluding budget lines 383 and 384 to the Department for Communities and Local Government revenue account budget). Figures are expressed in nominal cash terms, except where otherwise noted. Real-terms figures are presented at 2016/17 prices using HM Treasury deflators published in March 2017.
- The estimated reduction in public health spending between 2014/15 and 2020/21 is based on a joint analysis from The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation ahead of the 2016 Autumn Statement.
- The trend in spending for individual services does not include inflation or population growth, so the real-terms reduction will be even greater.
- The reductions in planned sexual health budgets have been calculated by combining the planned budgets for sexual health services – promotion, prevention and advice (non-prescribed); sexual health services – STI testing and treatment (prescribed functions); and sexual health services – contraception (prescribed functions).
- While rates of sexually transmitted infections including syphilis and gonorrhoea have increased in recent years, last year saw a slight fall in the gonorrhoea rate.
For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585 (if calling out of hours, please ring 07584 146035).
The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.
Latest News from
Revealed: 750,000 viable jobs unnecessarily at risk from combined failures of Sunak’s budget, finds IPPR05/03/2021 14:20:00
IPPR analysis finds chancellor’s stimulus is half of that needed to prevent a major surge in unemployment
IPPR - BUDGET 2021: Chancellor gambling on ‘rosy’ recovery forecast to duck the full budget boost the UK economy needs04/03/2021 13:35:00
Sunak’s plan offers only half the stimulus needed to put UK on best pathway to jobs, growth and restored public services
JRF responds to the Chancellor's Spring 2021 Budget04/03/2021 12:35:00
JRF responds to the Chancellor's Budget, with comments from Director Helen Barnard, and from our partners, Caroline and Lola, about how the decision on Universal Credit will affect them.
Institute of Economic Affairs: Budget 2021 response04/03/2021 11:35:00
Mark Littlewood, Director General at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, responded to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget 2021
IPPR North responds to Budget 202104/03/2021 10:35:00
IPPR North Director Sarah Longlands responded to the Budget
Adam Smith Inst - Super duper deduction by dishy Rishi04/03/2021 09:35:00
In response to the Budget 2021, Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Matt Kilcoyne spoke about some of the biggest changes announced.
New Local - Evidence proves the value of community power – now it’s time for political action02/03/2021 12:35:00
Giving people power over their places and services produces huge benefits, new research shows, and should be reflected in new legislation.
Raise some taxes now alongside bold stimulus package for ‘balanced recovery’, says IPPR02/03/2021 11:35:00
Think tank says reforms to four key taxes would lay foundation for a fairer and stronger post-pandemic economy
Axe 20 taxes and go for growth, says new IEA research02/03/2021 10:35:00
A new briefing paper from Institute of Economic Affairs, authored by Sam Collins and Alexander Hammond, suggests a radical simplification of our tax code.