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

Cllr Mark Santos. Picture: Joe Lord

Cllr Mark Santos. Picture: Joe Lord - Credit: Archant

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

Redbridge Council is seeing a boost to public funding after years of cuts. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

Redbridge Council is seeing a boost to public funding after years of cuts. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall - Credit: PA

But health bosses warn years of cuts across England have impacted councils’ capacity to deal with the outbreak.

New figures show Redbridge Council is set to receive a funding boost of 4.5pc for 2020-21, ​slightly below the average funding increase of 4.6pc across England.

That will give it £14million, up from £13.4m last year.

Redbridge Council has seen its public health funding slashed in recent years, falling by £1.1m (7.5pc) between 2016-17 and 2019-20.

That’s the equivalent of a drop from £47.27 per person to £42.79.

The 2020-21 allocation will also remain lower than during 2016-17, when it was £14.5m.

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Cllr Jas Athwal, the leader of Redbridge Council, said: “Over the past decade Redbridge Council has lost £182m worth of government funding so increases in funding are very welcome, especially in vitally important areas like public health.

“Right now Redbridge Council is on the frontline fighting the challenge of Covid-19, which only further highlights how crucially important local authority and public health funding is. We are working closely with the local NHS and Public Health England and together as a community we can overcome this challenge.”

Across England, funding was cut by 7.5pc during the same period, falling from £3.4billion to £3.1bn.

But the Health Foundation charity says this does not take inflation into account, and that councils have seen an average cut of 23pc in real terms since 2015-16, when all public health responsibilities were transferred to them.

Cllr Mark Santos, cabinet member for health, social care, mental health and the ageing, said: “We are pleased that the government is starting to follow its rhetoric with resourcing for prevention and public health by increasing the public health grant.

“This does not however make up for the years of under-resourcing and cuts to this funding.

“This increase includes the pay costs of staff working in NHS organisations, commissioned by the council to deliver public health services.”