Funding boost for health in Sheffield after years of cuts as councils battle coronavirus

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More money has been announced for public health in Sheffield, as councils work to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

But health bosses warn years of cuts across England have impacted councils' capacity to deal with the outbreak, while a delay in revealing funding levels for April onwards has left them struggling to plan effectively.

Local authorities in England have a range of public health responsibilities, which include planning for and responding to health threats such as the outbreak of infectious diseases.

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Spending on public health is funded by the Government, through the ring-fenced Public Health Grant, and is used to deliver a range of services including sexual health, drug and alcohol addiction, and school nursing.

Health service struggliong despite funding boostHealth service struggliong despite funding boost
Health service struggliong despite funding boost

New figures show Sheffield City Council is set to receive a funding boost of 4.4 per cent for 2020-21, slightly below the average funding increase of 4.6 per cent across England.

That will give it £33.9 million, up from £32.5 million last year.

And as we go into the new financial year, the Local Government Association accused the Government of leaving councils "in the dark" at a time of utmost urgency.

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Sheffield City Council has seen its public health funding slashed in recent years, falling by £2.6 million (7.5 per cent) between 2016-17 and 2019-20.

That's the equivalent of a drop from £61.55 per person to £55.49.

The 2020-21 allocation will also remain lower than during 2016-17, when it was £35.1 million.

David Finch, a member of the Health Foundation, said the coronavirus emergency reinforced the need for a properly funded, resilient local public health system: "Local authority public health teams have a vital part to play in the national response to COVID-19, working alongside the health care service."

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A Department for Health and Social Care spokeswoman said separate government funding could be used to fund councils' wider preparedness for emergencies.

She added that the increase in funding would allow local authorities "to continue to invest in prevention and essential frontline health services".

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