Research has shown that funding for healthy-lifestyle support such as obesity clinics and stop-smoking has been cut by a quarter in six years in England.
The Health Foundation said councils had received £3.3bn to run these services this year, £1bn less than in 2015-16 once inflation had been taken into account.
It added that the cut threatened the government’s levelling-up agenda to spread opportunity and wealth more fairly.
However, the government said it was “absolutely committed” to the policy, with a spokesperson adding that the newly-launched Office for Health Improvement and Disparities would play a crucial role in levelling up.
The Health Foundation’s Jo Bibby, said ministers had already acknowledged levelling up health was fundamental to levelling up economically, adding “A healthy and productive population will be essential to the country’s future prosperity.
“But ongoing cuts to the public-health grant run counter to this agenda and will ultimately serve to further entrench health inequality.”
The call has been supported by the Association of Directors of Public Health, which has published a letter signed by over 50 leading groups and health charities.
Professor Jim McManus, interim president of ADPH, said “The public-health grant has been cut, cut and cut again, undermining the leadership and services that are essential to improving health and reducing inequalities.”
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