Leeds council bosses attack ‘sham’ consultation as £2.8million public health cut confirmed

Leeds City Council chiefs have branded a Government consultation a “sham” after a multimillion pound health budget cut was finally confirmed.

Thursday, 5th November 2015, 7:00 pm
Leeds councillors claim that the citys public health budget is already underfunded by £6million. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Seven months into the financial year the Department of Health has revealed that all local authorities will have their public health allocation slashed by 6.2 per cent this year.

Council bosses in Leeds, who claim the city’s public health budget is already £6million short of what it should be, asked that their lack of funds be taken into account during a four-week consultation earlier this year.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, executive member for health, has accused the Government of “not paying attention to anything that was said” in going ahead with a straight percentage cut she claims will impact Leeds more than other areas.

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Coun Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council's executive member for health.

The Department of Health claims a standard cut “causes the least disruption to services”.

Having been tasked with saving £2.8m worth of cuts before the end of the financial year, the council has earmarked £2.2m of savings in areas like smoking cessation, winter wellbeing services, oral health and healthy schools work. Coun Mulherin said: “We knew the Government has complete contempt for local government but this shows complete contempt for the public as well and flies in the face of their attempt to protect all health services.”

She continued: “They are not protecting the NHS they are cutting it directly through us.”

The move means the council still has £600,000 to find, while fears the cut will be made recurrent have stopped them renewing the contract of HIV support service BHA Leeds Skyline.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said it believes “in the values of the NHS” which is why it plans to increase its budget by £10billion.

She said: “Difficult decisions need to be made across Government to reduce the deficit and ensure the sustainability of our public services.

“Local authorities have shown that more can be done for less to provide the best value for the taxpayer.

“Like the rest of the public sector, councils will have to continue to play their part in fixing the public finances, to ensure we deliver security for working people across the country.”