An additional £3.2bn a year is needed to reverse “short-sighted and irresponsible” cuts to the public health grant and ensure it is allocated based on need, according to the Health Foundation.
The charity’s research has found there has been a £700m real terms cut in funding between 2014-15 and 2019-20, equating to a reduction of 23.5% per person.
Its analysis also showed areas with the highest levels of deprivation have not been protected from these cuts, creating a risk that heath inequalities will increase.
The Health Foundation has called for additional money to be distributed according to an independent calculation by the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation (ACRA) to account for local need and prevent any area experiencing a reduction.
It also recommends increasing investment in the most deprived areas by providing an additional £1.3bn in 2019-20, with the remaining £1.9bn in funding allocated over the following four years.
Health Foundation director of health Jo Bibby said the sustained cuts to the public health grant contradict the government’s pledge to prioritise prevention.
She said: “At a time of ongoing wider cuts to public services that directly impact on people’s health, and with the NHS under intense pressure, the cuts to the public health grant are short sighted and irresponsible.
“The long-term consequences of eroding people’s health are likely to prove far more costly than the short term savings made.”