Copy of Use of Public Health Grant for 2019-20-2020-21

Closes 6 Jan 2019

Opened 1 Nov 2018

Overview

The Council has a duty to protect the health of its residents, and it receives a specific allocation of funding from central government to do this – the Public Health Grant. Public Health responsibilities involve taking steps to help the local population stay well. These are different from the responsibilities of other parts of the health system to provide treatment to individuals who become unwell. In the past, Public Health Grant has been used to commission a wide range of services to help people of all ages in Reading. Some examples include support to stop smoking, to achieve a healthy weight through a GP referral, school nursing, sexual health services such as contraception, support for people who are homeless, and assistive technology.

Beyond this, however, the Council provides a great many services which support healthy independent living. These benefit the ‘well’ population as well as those who are at risk of needing care or who are living with established long term health conditions. Individual wellbeing is affected by a range of factors, and we recognise the impact of the places where we live, work and play as well as our health and social care provision. For example, where people live can have a significant impact on their wellbeing, and supporting people to access quality housing can prevent a decline in either physical or mental health.

Continuing to provide these services is becoming increasingly challenging for the Council, unfortunately. Government funding for Reading will have been reduced from nearly £55 million between 2010 and 2020, leaving the Council with a grant of under £3 million. Allowing for Consumer Price Inflation, the £55 million received in 2010/11 would be worth £67 by 2019/20 as compared to the expected £3 million. That grant may be removed entirely by 2020 and there still remains little clarity on how the Government will fund local authorities beyond that point. The Local Government Association predicts that nationally the main Government grant for local services will be cut by a further £1.3 billion – or 36% - in 2019/20.  

Why We Are Consulting

Reading Borough Council is one of many local authorities with little option but to continue to make very difficult budget decisions in order to provide a balanced budget, which it has to by law.

As part of these funding reductions, the amount of Public Health Grant which Reading Borough Council receives is reducing year on year, and we have to review how we use the funding to make sure this is as efficient as possible and addresses the priority health issues for Reading. We are considering providing some Public Health support in different ways in future.

Firstly, this could mean having a service which combines support to lead healthier lifestyles in several ways – for example, one service to help people quit smoking, eat well, be physically active and in good emotional health.

Secondly, there are opportunities to offer more people support to help themselves by providing services digitally. This could mean the services reaching more people at times and in places which are convenient to them. For example, some people might prefer to get support online outside of normal office hours.

Thirdly, as the Public Health Grant is already used to commission services that are often delivered in partnership with other organisations, we would like to strengthen this partnership working so that there is health support at a range of sessions and settings rather than Public Health services necessarily being run separately. For example, some parents might like to be able to get child health advice at the same time as visiting a playgroup.

 We would like to hear from residents and partners what they think about the Council’s approach to supporting health and wellbeing, and the proposed changes to how we use our Public Health Grant allocation. This will help us to manage changes with a focus on what’s most important to the people of Reading.  

Give Us Your Views

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