Today the Government announced its spending plans for 2020-21, including the amount of money councils will have to spend on public health in England. Public health budgets are used to pay for sexual health services that are delivered by local councils.
In the Spending Round document, The Treasury has indicated that local councils will receive “a real-terms increase to the Public Health Grant budget” but it remains unclear as yet what this increase is and what this means in reality for frontline public health services, including sexual health.
Responding to the Spending Round, Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust said:
‘We welcome the confirmation that there will be no new cuts to public health, this is a step in the right direction after years of consecutive spending reductions. Terrence Higgins Trust has been calling for a halt to these damaging cuts and we are pleased the Government has taken notice of this. However, this must translate into a substantial increase in funding if the damage of those deep cuts are to be reversed.
‘Since 2014, £700m has been slashed from public health budgets, with funding for sexual health being cut by a quarter. The impact of this has been laid bare with rising STIs and people with symptomatic STIs being turned away from sexual health clinics. This cannot continue.
‘Evidence published by the Health Foundation and Kings Fund estimates that £1 billion will be required in this Spending Review just to reverse the cuts to public health budgets over the last five years.
‘Ending the short-sighted cuts is the right thing to do but we need a long-term solution to the funding crisis in sexual health. Yesterday’s new HIV statistics show that we are slowing down on progress to reduce HIV transmissions. Sexual health services remain the bedrock of HIV prevention, as well as being able to test and treat STIs. It’s long overdue that they receive the funding they so desperately need.