Spending on public health

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Part of The NHS in a nutshell

Public health spending

Source: King’s Fund analysis of Local authority revenue, expenditure and finance, 2013/14 to 2017/18, Department of Communities and Local Government. Data for 2016/17 refer to planned spending. GDP deflators at market prices, and money GDP March 2017, HM Treasury

In 2013/14, the responsibility and funding for many public health services were transferred from the NHS to local authorities. This included the transfer of funding and commissioning for sexual health services and services for drug or alcohol misuse.

According to data on local authority budgets, total planned spending on public health by councils in 2017/18 will be £3.4 billion, compared to £2.6 billion in 2013/14. But this is not a like-for-like comparison as it includes around £800 million in funding transferred to local authorities from the NHS alongside new responsibilities such as young children's public health.

If we compare on a like-for-like basis, spending on public health will actually fall by 5.2 per cent, from £2.6 billion in 2013/14 to £2.5 billion in 2017/18. This follows a £200 million in-year cut to public health spending in 2015/16 and further real-terms cuts averaging 3.9 per cent each year between 2016/17 and 2020/21.

For more on the changes in public health funding and the issues arising from these changes, see David Buck's blog.