Leeds hit hardest as council health budgets in Yorkshire and Humber ‘cut by £8m’

Labour's Jonathan Ashworth.
Labour's Jonathan Ashworth.
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Public health budgets to tackle smoking, obesity, sexually transmitted diseases and other issues have been cut by more than £8m by councils across Yorkshire and Humber amid central Government cuts, Labour analysis shows.

The research showed that most of the region’s town halls slashed their public health budgets between 2017/18 and 2018/19, with Leeds City Council carrying out the biggest cut of £2.1m.

Labour blamed “swingeing” central Government cuts and warned it would leave people “sicker”.

Elsewhere, Bradford Council cut its public health budget by £1.1m and North Lincolnshire by the same amount.

Sheffield Council cut its budget by £880,000, North Yorkshire £584,000, while there were also reductions in Hull, York, Doncaster, Rotherham, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.

Barnsley, North East Lincolnshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire were the only councils to boost spending.

The analysis showed that the vast majority - 85 per cent - of councils across England were making cuts to public health budgets in 2018/19.

Over six years cuts will total £800m across the country.

The worst hit services were sexual health, which was being cut by 95 councils and loses £17.6m, and substance misuse which is being cut by 114 councils and loses £34m

Public health budgets aimed specifically at children are being cut by a total of £25.9m year on year.

Smoking cessation budgets will fall by £3.1m and obesity budgets by £1m.

The figures come amid a slowdown in improvements in life expectancy, drug related deaths in England and Wales hitting an all-time high, a slowdown in the reduction in smoking rates among pregnant women, obesity rates among year 6 children hitting a record high.

With public health ignored in Theresa May’s announcement of £20bn funding for the NHS, Labour called for the Government to reverse these damaging cuts to public health in the Autumn Budget.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “When drug related deaths are at their highest ever, when rates of STDs are rising, when more children are leaving school obese than ever before and when improvements in life expectancy have slowed, then these swingeing cuts to public health budgets are short sighted, cynical and wrong.

“Local services which are there to keep people well and out of hospital are to be slashed in every part of England. The fact is these cuts to health budgets will leave people sicker, and in the long run will cost the NHS much more than they save.

“These cuts are pushing us to a public health crisis.

“Ahead of the Government’s 10 Year Plan for the NHS, Ministers must reverse these cuts because no plan for the NHS can work without a properly funded plan for prevention too.”