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Council leaders back Cancer Research UK public health funding call

Over a third of upper-tier council leaders from all main parties across England have backed Cancer Research UK’s call for the new Government to increase public health funding.

The number of people with cancer in the UK is set to rise steeply by 2030, yet research shows four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented through changes such as stopping smoking, being active and reducing their weight.

Public health funding enables councils to provide vital services that help residents reduce their risk.

Council leaders, because of this, have increasingly joined forces with Cancer Research UK to help prevent ill health in their local community and directly tackle cancers.

Senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK, George Butterworth, said: “Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer, and councils play a crucial role in stopping people from starting smoking and helping smokers to quit. Yet the funding earmarked to support these important activities has continued to be cut.

“Sadly, only 56% of councils are now able to commission a universal specialist service open to all local smokers. These cuts make no sense, when we know that on average every £1 spent on smoking cessation saves £10 in future health costs.

“If this Government wants to realise a smoke-free England by 2030, they urgently need to give councils a fairer deal on public health funding.”

In response, a group of 60 council leaders wrote to chancellor Sajid Javid, health secretary Matt Hancock and local government secretary Robert Jenrick, calling for a joined-up solution to tackling the public health funding crisis.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, added: “When so many council Leaders from up and down the country, and across political parties, join forces on an issue, you know it’s time to sit up and take notice.

“Councils have proven that they’re best-placed to deliver services and reduce ill health- but it can’t be done on a shoestring. I hope our new Prime Minister and his Cabinet are listening and ready to act.

“Once public health gets a fair funding deal, we should see healthier communities, the Government’s prevention ambitions realised, and a much more sustainable NHS and social care system which puts prevention over cure.”


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