Budget proposals for Public Health set for committee debate

Councillors are set to discuss proposals for the Council’s Public Health budget next week, which will outline the continuing transformation of the service.

The plans propose how the Council will invest in key Public Health Services, making sure the people of Cambridgeshire get the best possible value from every pound spent.

Cambridgeshire County Council has successfully delivered £215 million of savings over the last six years, while still providing good quality services. However, over the next five years, the Council faces a further £100 million pressure on budgets. The County Council’s Public Health budget comes from a ring fenced grant from Central Government currently worth nearly £27 million. However, from 2017/18 to 2019/20 the grant is expected to reduce by approximately £0.7 million per year.

Delivery of £31 million of savings in 2017/18 is on track, and the Council is now working on plans to deliver further savings in 2018/19. Taken together the Council goes in to its budget planning round this Autumn with a £37.5 million gap between the money it receives from the Government, from council tax, business rates and the income it makes – and the amount it needs to spend on services. Councillors will be discussing a set of proposals at their service committees to help bridge this funding gap.

These principles include:

·         Investing in our services to transform them, delivering better outcomes and constrained demand

·         Transforming the way we work – making improvements to how we manage our business, our people and our money

·         Better managing the contracts we have with suppliers and external providers

·         Developing new and deeper partnerships – bringing benefits for all 

·         Only considering reducing services as a last resort

The transformation programme for Public Health Services will follow these key themes:

Improving engagement with communities to support behaviour changes, which will improve health in the longer term. This includes the transfer earlier this year of the CAMQUIT Stop Smoking Service to Everyone Health, an external provider, who are specialists in engaging with communities around lifestyle changes. This will save approximately £84,000.

Strengthening the role of all three tiers of local government in providing environments and services which support health and wellbeing. An example of this is how Cambridgeshire County Council is working with district councils to promote physical activity.

Maximising efficiency through the commissioning and procurement of services, including working in partnership with other organisations where this can improve outcomes or reduce commissioning costs. This includes the tendering for alcohol and drug misuse services, which will create a more integrated approach, which could save approximately £154,000.

The budget proposals will be discussed on 19 October at the Health Committee. The agenda and papers can be found here.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Peter Hudson, Chairman of the Health Committee, said: “These are difficult times for County Councils, but we firmly believe through transformation of services that we can improve people’s health outcomes and that remains our top priority. We aim to do this by commissioning services which have a proven track record in delivering results and working with a range of partners in a more integrated way. By doing this we can make efficiency savings, so any effect, if at all, on frontline services will be minimised. I look forward to debating these proposals at the Health Committee on 19 October.

“The Council is also sending a strong message to Government that the long term underfunding of large rural counties cannot continue as part of our fairdeal4Cambs campaign.”