Spending on public health

In 2014/15, the Department of Health allocated around £5.8 billion for public health spending. Just over £1.9 billion of this was given, via Public Health England, to the NHS for services such as vaccination, screening and health visiting. £2.8 billion was ring-fenced and allocated to local authorities as a grant, with more than half of this money for sexual health and drug services, and the rest for other services such as tobacco control, obesity and physical activity. After two years of relatively generous growth, the specific grant to local authorities for 2015/16 will be the same in cash terms as 2014/15, a likely cut in real terms, given inflation.

Local authorities contribute towards improving the public’s health in many other areas – such as transport, education, planning, housing and leisure. Spending in some of these areas is falling (see figure) after significant cuts in the grants from central to local government. For example local authorities plan to spend 8 per cent less on cultural services (including parks and recreation) in 2014/15 compared to what they spent in 2013/14. 

Public health spending

Source: The King's Fund analysis based on Department for Communities and Local Government data

More NHS in a nutshell