Southwark is set to lose another £700,000 in public health funding, following a Government announcement last week.
The move follows a previous £1.6m cut in the middle of this financial year. The latest reduction is the sixth largest of London’s thirty-three councils.
The public health budget helps the Council and local NHS to improve people's health and ensures less pressure on NHS hospital and emergency services. Southwark has some of the highest levels in London of residents with mental health, obesity and sexual health issues. Public health budgets also include funding for encouraging Southwark residents to exercise more, give up smoking, drink less and come off harmful drugs.
Liberal Democrats in the previous Coalition government ensured that responsibility for public health services returned to local authorities. The move gives local councillors a leading role in designing services to improve public health and wellbeing in their communities. This work is at risk with constant central government cuts to public health funding.
Southwark Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Councillor David Noakes, said:
“This latest announcement shows that public health in Southwark is facing a significant squeeze at a time when it’s needed more than ever. This is an incredibly blinkered step for the government to take.
“These cuts are short-sighted in the extreme. They are just storing up trouble further down the line for our hospitals and emergency services, which will cost the state more and increase the pressure on the NHS and social care budgets. Prevention is not only better and cheaper than cure but it also reduces or avoids the misery, stress and impact of physical and mental ill health.
“Despite councils’ vital work on tackling teenage pregnancies, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of exercise and sexual health, it seems the Government sees them as the ‘Cinderella’ of health services despite passing all responsibility to local authorities.
“It was right that responsibility for public health was returned to local government as council’s have a greater reach into our communities, but these on going cuts to our public health budgets are threatening the health and welllbeing of our residents and the council’s ability to change lives and make a positive difference.”