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Public Health Funding

Volume 648: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2018

18. What recent representations he has received on the potential merits of increasing public health funding to local authorities. (907226)

This Government have a strong track record on public health. Local authorities in England are supported by ring-fenced public health grants of more than £16 billion over the current spending review period. Decisions on future funding are, of course, for the next spending review.

Substance misuse services are due to be slashed by £34 million owing to cuts imposed by central Government. In Hull, and I am sure in many other parts of the country, there is a growing blight on our streets caused by Spice and other substances. How is it in any way helpful to communities, frontline police or the NHS for the Government to cut services that help people deal with their addictions?

As I said, we are spending £16 billion of our constituents’ money during this spending review period on public health grants. Decisions about where we go in future are of course not a matter for me but for the Chancellor in the spending review. This House decided in the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to make every upper tier local authority a public health authority. We believe that it is right for local authorities to make those decisions, with the funding that we give them.

How many health visitors have been lost since 2015? How will the Minister ensure that important investments are made at the start of life to reduce health inequalities?

As I suspect the hon. Gentleman knows, I do not have that figure at my fingertips, but I will provide it to him. Health visitors are a critical part of the puzzle, and local authorities are well aware of that, as are Ministers.