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Formula aims to aid local authorities on public health services funding

Government promises no local authority will be short changed next year

Caroline White

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Department of Health has published a formula intended to help local authorities across England distribute funds for public health services for 2013/14.

The formula has been devised by the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation (ACRA), in a bid to assist local authorities across England to support their new public health responsibilities, which they will assume from next April.

Following feedback, it will be refined, with a final version expected later in the year.

Public health funding will be ring fenced from next year, and the Department of Health says that local areas will either receive equivalent funding in 2013/14 or be better off under the new arrangements.

But concerns have been raised that the funding is based on previous spends by primary care trusts, and that much of the data on which those spends have been calculated, are inaccurate.

But commenting on the recommendations, Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said: “We are committed to all areas of the country seeing a real terms increase in public health spending, above what PCTs were spending locally. Today’s announcement confirms this.”

He added: “every area of the country is different and has contrasting needs. The interim recommendations published by the independent Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation today provide a solid basis for local authorities to begin planning for next year.”

The actual local authority public health allocations for 2013-14 won’t be published until the end of the year.

Under the new arrangements, a public health outcomes framework will reward local authorities if they improve the health of the local population, and a health premium will target areas with the worst health outcomes and the most need. Disadvantaged areas will be given a greater reward if they make progress, in recognition of the fact that they face the greatest challenges.

Local authority responsibilities will include  services for tobacco control and smoking cessation; alcohol and drug misuse; public health services for children and young people aged 5-19; the National Child Measurement Programme; obesity management services; and comprehensive sexual health services.

But a survey of its members, published by the Association of Directors of Public Health last week, suggests that local authorities may struggle to fill posts.

Out of all 147 public health directors sent the survey, 77 (52%) responses were received. The figures show that one in four substantive public health services directors do not plan to transfer to LA, and almost one in three acting and interim directors do not intend to do so either.

This means that up to 60 posts could be left vacant, says the Association.

The recommendations can be found here: DH website.

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