Liberal Democrats call for proper funding for public health services

At the next full meeting of Oldham Council (Wednesday 12 December), the Liberal Democrats will be proposing a motion calling on the Conservative Government to restore disastrous cuts made to public health.

The motion will be proposed by Councillor Chris Gloster and seconded by Councillor Garth Harkness.

Chris Gloster
Councillor Chris Gloster

In the 2015 Budget, the Chancellor announced a £200 million in-year cut to the Public Health Grant, followed by a further real-terms cut averaging 3.9% each year (until 2020/21) in the 2015 Spending Review.

These cuts are having a significant impact on public health services and functions. By way of example, research conducted by Action on Smoking and Health and Cancer Research UK shows that, following reductions to the Public Health Grant in 2015, 2016, and 2017, stop smoking services were cut in 39%, 59% and 50% of local authorities respectively year-on-year.  Now, 4 in 10 local authorities are not able to offer a stop smoking service for all smokers in their area.

Commenting Councillor Gloster said: “Oldham is a borough with a high incidence of poor health.  Many of our residents suffer from long-term health conditions and many others are at risk of developing such diseases as cardiovascular disease, liver disease, diabetes, CPD and cancer, often because of a poor diet or poor life style choices.  Taking funds away from prevention services that prevent ill health is a false economy. Smoking, obesity and alcohol account for 80,000, 30,000 and 7,000 early deaths each year respectively; and smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable cancer.”

The Liberal Democrats want to see increased and sustained Government funding for public health to address health inequalities in deprived boroughs like Oldham, but the present Government is instead proposing to cut existing funding and make Councils rely on business rates

Councillor Gloster added: “The Government is looking to phase out the Public Health Grant by 2020/21 and to replace this with funding via business rates retention. This might work in a local authority area with low rates of long-term ill-health and a very vibrant local economy, but in an economically-deprived borough like Oldham it is unlikely to stack up and this will mean that poorly people will suffer as they will no longer have access to the vital health services that they need. We want to see Oldham Council support the Cancer Research UK campaign for the Public Health Grant to be restored.”

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