£16m health grant is welcomed

OFFICIALS in Hartlepool have welcomed a £16m public health grant settlement from the Government and say they are “well equipped” for the challenges ahead.

From April, Hartlepool Borough Council will be responsible for public health services as part of a national shake-up and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a two-year ring-fenced budget worth £5.45bn for local authorities.

Public health funding in Hartlepool this year stands at £7.685m, but that will rise to £8.255m in 2013-14 and £8.486m in the financial year after.

Government officials say for the first time public health budgets will be protected, with local authorities taking the lead for improving the health of their communities.

Mr Hunt said it will help drive local efforts to improve health and wellbeing, and the areas with the greatest needs will receive more money.

Louise Wallace, director of Public
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Health for Hartlepool, said: “We are looking forward very much to taking on a wide range of public health responsibilities from April, and it is pleasing that the Government has announced a two-year settlement which enables us to plan for the longer term.

“We now need to work through the detail of the settlement and ensure that we put the resources to the best possible use in improving the health and wellbeing of Hartlepool residents.

“A lot of work has already been done in preparation for the extra responsibilities which will fall on the council and we are well equipped for the new challenges that lie ahead.”

In 2013-14 the budget for local public health services will be just under £2.7bn and in 2014-15 the budget will be just under £2.8bn.

Mr Hunt added: “By putting local authorities in charge of public health, we are giving them the power, freedom and the funding to tackle the issues that blight their local areas and help improve the lives of their local communities.

“Improving the health of local people will be at the heart of everything they do – from social care to transport, housing, planning and environment.”

Duncan Selbie, chief executive designate of Public Health England, said: “We welcome this investment and look forward to working alongside local government as they take on their new leadership responsibilities for health and wellbeing.”