A lack of certainty around councils’ public health funding this year risks exacerbating the growing crisis of demand for support services, including those for drug and alcohol treatment that has built up because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the LGA has said.
They are calling on the government to urgently publish the Public Health Grant funding allocations which councils will receive from April, as Covid-19 pressures intensify due to the effects of Omicron.
The LGA said time is also running out with councils having to make critical decisions on renewing contracts for vital public health services.
This includes health visiting, sexual and reproductive health, as well as suicide prevention, potentially leaving people without crucial help and support.
Drug and alcohol treatment, tackling obesity and health visiting are among the vital frontline services at risk of being cut back or closing altogether, unless the government urgently sets out public health funding for the next year, the LGA said.
The organisation said that Directors of Public Health and their teams, working in councils, continue to lead their communities through Covid-19, such as encouraging vaccine take-up, setting up contact tracing partnerships and tackling local outbreaks.
As well as this, the LGA said that the grant also crucially pays for councils’ health protection measures, such as in planning for and responding to incidents that present a threat to the public’s health.
Commenting, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Councillor David Fothergill said:
“Demand for vital treatment for drug and alcohol misuse, obesity, mental health and children’s health is rising and at risk of not being met, while we are still grappling with the impact of the Omicron surge.
“The unprecedented mental and physical health toll of the pandemic will mean we could be seeing many more people coming forward for support, in addition to an existing backlog which has built up over the last two years.
“It is wrong that we are still in the dark about how much there is to spend on this essential treatment and support, which will better protect our population from future pandemics.
“The government should act now and publish councils’ public health grant without further delay, so that we can get on with planning ahead for an anticipated post-Covid surge in requests for help.”