Statement regarding Shropshire Council’s public health budget proposals
The following is a statement from Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult services, health and social housing, in response to the proposed savings identified in the council’s public health budget.
Like every council across England we have to set a balanced budget and this means making tough choices, which of course is always difficult to do. We know there is a significant risk to the health of the local population if health promotion and illness prevention programmes were forced to be reduced or ceased. These are savings we really do not wish to make, and we want to ensure that these proposed savings do not compromise the council’s public health outcomes.
To give some context to the reasons behind these proposed savings, there has been an ongoing increase in expenditure in councils, particularly in our adult social care and children’s services, as demands increase year on year. We particularly feel this in Shropshire, as a rural county with a rapidly growing older population which is higher than the national average.
In addition to this we receive one of the lowest public health funding per head in England. We are the lowest funded in the West Midlands – £39 per head – compared to Telford & Wrekin Council area’s £71 per head.
Unfortunately, there has not been a realisation by central government in the way that it allocates this needs-based formula. As a result, rural councils like Shropshire Council that have responsibilities for adult social care have seen a massive increase in the burden of expenditure, and that has not been reflected in the way government allocates its funding.
Whilst we have received additional one-off funding for adult social care from central government, this will still not address the issue. We need a sustainable long term solution to the funding of adult social care, which is largely behind the overspend.
I have arranged to present evidence to the Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, around the way that the formula for public health is allocated, as since public health’s move from the Primary Care Trust (PCT) into the council, we have received an extremely poor share of the grant.
I will also be discussing with Matt Hancock the £20b extra funding being put into the NHS, as I want to see the Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS getting more serious in prevention and to take more account of the preventative opportunities, as I believe that joining up our preventative services and activities is the right way to go.
As with many councils we have to sustain ourselves in terms of the opportunity to generate revenue in Shropshire, because what’s clear is that we’re not getting enough help from central government.
Whilst we continue to lobby government, we continue to work with and develop joint working relationships with our partners and across the health, social care and provider sector. We’re also exploring new and innovative programmes and seeking new ways of generating revenue.
Until we receive clearer guidance from central government, we just don’t know how much public grant will be left by 2020, and we have to plan potentially for that not being there.
We will continue to shout loud and hard and continue to lobby to ensure we get a fair deal for our residents.