Funds will help tackle pandemic in Northamptonshire as county councils work to tackle coronavirus

More money has been announced for public health in Northamptonshire, as county councils work to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 1:53 pm

But health bosses warn years of cuts across England have impacted councils’ capacity to deal with the outbreak, while a delay in revealing funding levels for April onwards has left them struggling to plan effectively.

Local authorities in England have a range of public health responsibilities, which include planning for and responding to health threats such as the outbreak of infectious diseases.

Spending on public health is funded by the Government, through the ring-fenced Public Health Grant, and is used to deliver a range of services including sexual health, drug and alcohol addiction, and school nursing.

New figures show Northamptonshire County Council is set to receive a funding boost of 5.5 per cent for 2020-21, above the average funding increase of 4.6 per cent across England.

That will give it £35.7 million, up from £33.9 million last year. But with just two weeks to go until the start of the next financial year, the Local Government Association accused the Government of leaving councils “in the dark” at a time of utmost urgency.

Northamptonshire County Council has seen its public health funding slashed in recent years, falling by £2.7 million (7.5 per cent) between 2016-17 and 2019-20.

That’s the equivalent of a drop from £50.52 per person to £45.03.

The 2020-21 allocation will also remain lower than during 2016-17, when it was £36.6 million.

Across England, funding was cut by 7.5 per cent during the same period, falling from £3.4 billion to £3.1 billion.

Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said the increase was a positive step forward after years of cuts.