Analysis from the Labour party and verified by the House of Commons Library has found that Stockport has lost £3.11m in funding for local public health services over the last five years, which equates to a cut of 16 percent, or £12 per person (all real terms).
Cuts to Stockport’s public health budgets have meant that public health teams have had to make difficult decisions about where they spend their money, alongside carrying out vital work to control the spread of Covid-19, including local outbreak planning, and crucially, promotional work to support the vaccine rollout. In 2021/22, the public health team (like all other public health teams in England) also took on responsibility for costs associated with the provision of the anti-HIV drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and services related to it.
Local public health teams are also responsible for stop smoking services, sexual health services, health checks, public mental health, drug and alcohol services, children’s public health services, programmes to tackle obesity, amongst other key public health programmes. Their work is crucial because it supports people in Stockport to stay well and helps prevent health problems.
The £3.11m real terms cut to the team’s funding fails to prioritise this vital work, despite public health staff having spent almost two years working flat out to tackle the worst public health crisis in living memory.
In last month’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review, the Government announced no real terms change to the total public health grant, which means no more funding for local public health teams in 2022/23.
As the Member of Parliament for Stockport, I know the public health team here have worked so hard to keep us all safe during the pandemic, and I’m grateful to them for everything they have done. It beggars belief that despite their hard work, the services they run have experienced such devastating cuts.
The words ‘Levelling Up’ will mean nothing unless the Government invests in public health and prevention, which is key to improving people’s lives and keeping them healthy for longer.