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Public health grant rises but still 22% lower than in 2015

A 2.6% real terms boost to the public health grant still leaves it a fifth lower than in 2015, umbrella groups have warned.  

The ring-fenced cash – which funds public health services including health visiting, school nursing and sexual health - will rise from £3.1bn to £3.3bn in the 2020/21 financial year.  

However, groups have highlighted the grant is still 22% lower in real terms than in 2015/16 and is not enough to offset damage accumulated over five years of cuts.  

Institute of Health Visiting executive director Dr Cheryll Adams said: ‘Children’s potential health and wellbeing will remain at stake until a making good of the cuts to Public Health budgets over the past five years happens.’  

‘We hope this will be announced in the next Spending Review,’ she added.  

The School and Public Health Nurses Association said the funding boost ‘will never replace the wealth of lost services and experience’.  

‘However, this can and should provide the springboard for the forthcoming Spending Review to provide a significant and fit for purpose long term settlement,’ it added.  

Senior fellow at the Health Foundation David Finch explained the announcement still leaves the grant at 22% lower in real terms per person than in 2015/16. 

He also warned that the grant can promise ‘nothing about future allocations’, making it ‘difficult for local authorities to plan effectively’.  

He said: ‘While today’s grant provides some much-needed certainty for the next year, looking ahead the Government should restore the grant to 2015/16 levels by investing an extra £1 billion a year and then ensure that the grant keeps pace with growth in NHS England spend.’ 

In February, the Marmot Review revealed a widening health gap between wealth and deprived areas, and recommended the public health grant be increased.  

Last year, a survey of health visitors revealed that half of them feel so stretched that they fear a ‘tragedy’ could occur in their care.