Central funding for smoking cessation services has been cut by over a third, an analysis has showed.
Research from the Labour Party published on Tuesday revealed that budgets for stop smoking services and interventions were slashed by 36% per head between 2013/14 and 2016/17.
Earlier this month, the Government said that prevention will be at the heart of the upcoming long-term plan, branding smoking cessation a ‘major priority’.
Labour’s analysis showed that the Government cuts to funding for stop smoking services and interventions between 2013/14 and 2016/17 is equivalent to a £2.09 spend per head.
It also found that funding for sexual health services per head dropped by 29% over the same period, down to just £1.23 per person. Similarly, spending on specialist drug and alcohol misuse services for children and young people fell by 25%.
Shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth said budget cuts to public health services are ‘short-sighted and will only lead to wider pressures on the NHS and adult social care services’.
He added: ‘Ministers who boast of their commitment to prevention won’t be taken seriously whilst at the same time cutting vital services that support pregnant mothers, help people stop smoking or tackle sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse.
‘Not only are these cuts completely misguided, they also shamefully mean some of the most vulnerable in society are failed again as they go without treatment and support.’
More cuts ahead
In September, the Labour party revealed that cuts to public health budgets mean that local authorities will have to find £800m worth of savings by 2021.
When asked on Tuesday by work and pensions shadow minister Mike Amesbury whether the Government will reverse the cuts, health minister Steve Brine said eight and a half years of austerity ‘is not a long time to clear up the mess of the last Government’.
He added: ‘The Government has a strong track record on public health. Local authorities in England have received more than £16bn in ring-fenced public health grants over the current spending period.
‘Decisions on future funding for that area of spending are of course for the next spending review. ‘We are very clear […] that a focus on prevention will be central to the long-term plan.’