Government must announce public health grant amidst Coronavirus crisis

If our Councils are to undertake our work of fighting underlying health problems in light of the Coronavirus Crisis the Government must end the 6 month delay in announcing our Public Health grant for the financial year which starts n 2 weeks time.

Today I have joined fellow Liberal Democrats in calling on the Health Secretary to announce the public health grant for 20/21 amidst the Coronavirus crisis.

I have done this both as Leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats, and Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson at the Local Government Association and have written to him calling on him to announce the funding to ensure councils could fulfil our role as a “key part” in containing the virus.

In my letter to him I said:

“Having failed to tell local councils how much the public health grant will be, the Government has made it all but impossible for councils to ensure our communities have proper healthcare.

“Even if it was business as usual this would be shameful, but with the Coronavirus it is nothing short of an abdication of duty. 

“Public health information is vital to lowering the Coronavirus peak, but even more alarming is the inability for local councils to try and address the inevitable gaps in our social care sector getting worse.

“We estimate that up to 5% of the public health jobs in Council’s Public Health Departments are now vacant and programmes to deal with underlying health issues are coming to a halt.

“In Liverpool we have a new Director of Public Health arriving next month but there are a number of vacancies that we are unable to fill because of uncertainty about the funding package. We have no spare funds elsewhere to move around and are being extremely cautious with money because we may need to move money around the system to deal with growing social care needs.

“When you visited us at the Local Government Association in September last year you told us that a dispute between the Department of Health and the Treasury would be sorted quickly. We got 2 dates in February when we would definitely get the grant details and yet we still have no idea of the grant with all councils now having set our budgets and the new council financial year starting in just 2 weeks’ time.

Whilst the Prime Minister and Health Secretary are happily touring the TV studios, they are utterly failing at the most basic level to support councils in our vital work. A six month’s delay in getting our grant details is a disgrace at any time but in the present circumstances means that Councils are unable to do as much as needs to eb done to protect the underlying health of our communities.

ENDS

Cllr Kemp can be contacted on 07885 626913

Notes to editors


The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing to urge you to immediately announce the public health grant for local authorities for 2020/21.

The unacceptable delay has made it extremely difficult for local government to plan health services in the community such as sexual health services, the NHS Health Check programme and public health advice to NHS Commissioners.

With the coronavirus, this delay has become even more serious.

Public Health funding is a crucial component for ensuring public services work together to issue advice and information, but also plan for knock on effects on the social care workforce for example.

The delay has also compounded the severe reductions in local authorities’ public health grant funding – over £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20 – which has left councils under incredible pressure to deliver vital community health services.

“We estimate that up to 5% of the public health jobs in Council’s Public Health Departments are now vacant and programmes to deal with underlying health issues are coming to a halt.

“In Liverpool we have a new Director of Public Health arriving next month but there are a number of vacancies that we are unable to fill because of uncertainty about the funding package. We have no spare funds elsewhere to move around and are being extremely cautious with money because we may need to move money around the system to deal with growing social care needs.

“When you visited us at the Local Government Association in September last year you told us that a dispute between the Department of Health and the Treasury would be sorted quickly. We got 2 dates in February when we would definitely get the grant details and yet we still have no idea of the grant with all councils now having set our budgets and the new council financial year starting in just 2 weeks’ time.

The Government has said on various occasions that the best way to reduce the peak of Coronavirus is to contain and delay it – public health information is a key part of that strategy and it must not be neglected by this government.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats, Lib Dem Spokesperson on Health & Social Care, Local Government Association

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s