Since 2013, local authorities have been primarily responsible for sexual health services in England. Sexual health services are paid for by a ring-fenced public health grant – funded by the national Government.
Adequate public health funding is vital if we are to prioritise prevention, tackle new HIV transmissions and ensure that everyone is supported to achieve good sexual health.
Cuts to funding
The local authority public health budget was cut by £700 million in real terms between 2014/15 and 2019/20. The cuts to funding have led to sexual health service budgets being cut by 25% in this time.
Our recent report with the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) shows that cuts to funding are having a direct impact on access to sexual health services.
In October 2019, the Government confirmed that the local authority public health grant would increase by 1% in real terms in 2020-2021. A halt to funding cuts is welcome but this is well short of the radical uplift in funding needed to fully fund sexual health services.
There is no long-term funding settlement for the local authority public health grant and no solution from the government to the very urgent demand being seen in sexual health services now. These funding cuts are short-sighted and ill-thought through. They’ll ultimately lead to extra pressures on the health and social care system, as transmission of HIV and STIs continues.
What we want
We are working with public health charities, medical authorities and local councils to push the Government to fully fund local authority public health budgets.
We want public health, including sexual and reproductive health services to be fully funded to meet local need. The Government’s likely Spending Review in 2020 should include a radical uplift in public health funding that invests in local prevention services.