Andrew Lansley, the Heath Secretary, will today announce the restoration of the link between councils and improving public health. Councils had historically been responsible for public health, until the NHS was reorganised in 1974. £5.2 billion for this will be ringfenced and councils will earn funding based upon how well they improve aspects such as air pollution, tooth decay and truancy. Daily Telegraph – 23/01/12.
It seems that, whatever the politics of the government, the policy of making local government beg for funding lives on. No doubt many councils will jump at the chance to grab this money, even though it is unlikely to be without both strings and a time limit on the funding offered. The strings can be coped with, but the funding time limit is the killer, as having put a service in place, especially one local taxpayers value, withdrawing a service comes with serious political fallout.
Of course county councils won’t be looking at the longer term fund issues when bidding for this cash because they will only see it as further justification for their continued existence. Their reason for ensuring that they take on as much work as possible, is to do with the increasing discussions that are taking place on the future of two tier local government. I’ve little doubt that this debate will become more and more heated as budgets shrink and the fight for survival becomes more and more desperate.