The public health support for Hampshire region has been slashed by 16 per cent by Conservatives since 2016, Basingstoke Labour party has said.

The opposition party, which conducted an analysis, said there has been a £10-million (16 per cent) cut in government public health support for the people of Hampshire since 2015-16.

The party added that the cuts to Hampshire’s public health budgets meant that public health teams have had to make difficult decisions about where they spend their money, alongside carrying out vital work to control the spread of Covid-19, including local outbreak planning, and crucially, promotional work to support the vaccine rollout.

Local public health teams are responsible for services that help save money in the longer term by improving public health, such as stop smoking services, sexual health services, health checks, public mental health, drug and alcohol services, school nurses, health visitors, programmes to tackle obesity, amongst other key public health programmes.

Deputy leader of the Hampshire Labour Group and Labour Candidate for Kempshott & Buckskin, Cllr Kim Taylor said it is time Conservative government stopped the squeeze on working people and started spending our money wisely.

“These cuts from central government meant that earlier this year Hampshire County Council put forward plans for a £6.8 million round of cuts to our local public health,” Cllr Taylor said.

“Hampshire Labour argued against these cuts which could have placed babies, young people, and families at risk. These arguments and the public’s response forced Hampshire to think again, and I am pleased to say that the proposals for drastic cuts to school nursing and health visiting have been withdrawn.

“But continuing austerity means these savings still need to be made and the money will be cut from other budgets at the council. Pay more get less – that’s what the Government have delivered for people across Hampshire.

“Investing in public health is good for the community, and good for the NHS, yet instead of the support we need, all local people got in last month’s budget was yet another tax rise. The Conservatives want Council Tax to rise by 9 per cent in the next 3 years. Low growth has led to high tax and less investment in our public services.

“It’s time this Conservative government stopped the squeeze on working people and started spending our money wisely, not wasting it on failures like Test and Trace and favours for their friends and donors.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: "Our NHS is in crisis and patients are waiting longer for treatment thanks to years of Tory cuts and a failure to recruit the doctors and nurses needed.

“In communities across the country, the Tories have cut the vital public health services that prevent people from becoming seriously ill, ultimately putting more pressure on local hospitals.

“To save lives we need to keep people well, but instead public health services are set to be stretched again thanks to this Conservative government."

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “The delivery of public health services by local government is funded through a national ringfenced grant – a pot of money provided by the Government which can only be spent on services that deliver public health outcomes.

“While there has been an intentional reduction in grant level provided to Hampshire County Council of around £8million since 2015/16, equating to closer to £13million once the impact of inflation has been taken into account, some increase in the grant has also been received to help cover extra responsibilities given to local authorities in recent years. These include providing support to children and young people aged 0-19 years – the associated costs of which are substantial.

“Therefore, while the overall grant for Hampshire in 2021/22, is currently just under £53million, up from just over £46million in 2015/16, this increase has been fully absorbed by the rising costs of delivering a growing portfolio of responsibilities.”

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “The delivery of public health services by local government is funded through a national ringfenced grant – a pot of money provided by the Government which can only be spent on services that deliver public health outcomes.

“While there has been an intentional reduction in grant level provided to Hampshire County Council of around £8million since 2015/16, equating to closer to £13million once the impact of inflation has been taken into account, some increase in the grant has also been received to help cover extra responsibilities given to local authorities in recent years. These include providing support to children and young people aged 0-19 years – the associated costs of which are substantial.

“Therefore, while the overall grant for Hampshire in 2021/22, is currently just under £53million, up from just over £46million in 2015/16, this increase has been fully absorbed by the rising costs of delivering a growing portfolio of responsibilities.”