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MPs told councils 'appreciate' public health ring-fence

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Social care minister Paul Burstow has defended government plans to ring-fence the public health budgets councils will receive as part of the government’s NHS reform programme, claiming the sector wanted them.

But he could not give MPs on the communities and local government select committee a better indication of the Department of Health’s likely public health fundingthan the £4bn total figure given last November, nor how it would be split between central and local government.

Questioned on why the government wanted to ring-fence public health spending at a time when localism ought to dictate how councils used their funding to best effect, Mr Burstow said the proposals were what the sector wanted.

“The message we have received from colleagues in local government is that they appreciate the certainty that there is a protection to this resource,” he said.

The Local Government Association has previously argued for maximum freedom for councils to carry out their public health roles, as have other sector leaders.

Mr Burstow also told MPs yesterday that the government was committed to allowing local areas to determine how their strategic Health and Wellbeing Boards evolved to fulfil the statutory duties outlined in the Health and Social Care Bill.

He insisted that it would be the role of NHS Commissioning board’s job – and not that of ministers – to intervene in disputes between Health and Wellbeing Boards and GP consortia.


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