Hampshire County Council reveals plans to slash £6.8m from public health budget

ALMOST £7m will be cut from a council’s public health budget, it has been announced.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 10:29 am

Sexual health, substance abuse treatment, 0-19 nursing (including school nursing) and anti-smoking campaigns are all set to lose out as Hampshire County Council proposes to make cuts of £6.8m.

The council said this is being done to cope with the ongoing reductions in local government funding.

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The council's total public health budget stands at £52.9m

A consultation has been launched and proposes the closure of substance abuse treatment centre in Winchester, cut staff numbers in commissioned services and having digital-only support for others.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, executive lead member for adult services and public health, said: ‘The county council’s public health service is funded through a ring-fenced government grant that must be used to deliver the local authority’s public health responsibilities to improve the health and wellbeing of Hampshire residents.

‘In order to meet the county council’s savings obligations, the service is proposing to re-focus its budget to support the public health work being undertaken more widely across the local authority, as well as continuing to improve the health of the population and deliver key mandated services.

‘The service has worked hard to reduce its costs by improving efficiency and early intervention and prevention, thereby limiting the impact of savings on front line service delivery. However, opportunities to further reduce costs are getting harder to find, and extra pressures mean that an additional £6.8 million must now be found.’

Last year, Hampshire County Council closed eight libraries across the county in a bid to save a further £1.76m.

The total public health budget for 2021/22 stands at £52.9m.

Trade union Unite believes that these cuts will be ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.

Lead officer for health in the south east, Jesika Parmar, said: ‘The proposed cuts to public health funding in Hampshire will have a very detrimental impact on the provision of vital health visiting and school nursing services to families with children; individuals seeking sexual health advice; those with substance abuse issues; and the many people wishing to give up smoking.

‘Such cuts can be traced back to central government and the unrelenting squeeze on public health funding that the Tory government has implemented since 2010.

‘If these drastic cutbacks go ahead, it will make a mockery of the prime minister’s much vaunted, but rarely seen ‘levelling up’ agenda for those in economic and social need.’

The county council’s consultation is running until August 9.

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