Spending on public health

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Public health spending

Source: King’s Fund analysis of Local authority revenue, expenditure and finance, 2013/14 to 2016/17, 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.

Since then, total spending on public health by local authorities has increased by 33 per cent in real terms (2016/17 prices), from £2.6 billion in 2013/14 to £3.5 billion in 2016/17. But, this is not a like-for-like comparison: the 2016/17 figure includes additional funds for new responsibilities transferred to local authorities such as early years services.

If we compare on a like-for-like basis, spending on public health has actually fallen by 4 per cent, from £2.6 billion in 2013/14 to £2.5 billion in 2016/17. 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.

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