Dearne MP vents anger over health funding

Figures uncovered by MP John Healey show that Barnsley and Rotherham receive less than half the funding for public health that goes to posh Kensington and Chelsea – despite far higher deprivation and lower life expectancy.

Rotherham receives £53 in public health grant per person, and Barnsley £58.

Meanwhile in Kensington and Chelsea – where men are expected to live eight years longer and women nine or 10 years longer – the grant is £130 per person.

The money goes from the government to local councils to promote healthy living and prevent illness.

Now Mr Healey has urged health secretary Jeremy Hunt to look again at the allocations and stop the system that rewards rich, healthy areas and penalises those who need extra funding most.

He said in the letter: “It can’t be right that leafy Kensington and Chelsea, home to some of the richest people in the country, is due to get more than double the amount of public health funding per person compared to Rotherham and Barnsley.

“Despite the gains made during the last decade, there is still much work to do on public health: smoking kills 80,000 people a year, alcohol over 6,500 and around one in four adults are obese.

“What’s more, the evidence is clear that public health problems are closely linked to poverty. Take child obesity, where the most deprived children are nearly twice as likely to be obese as the least deprived.

“This demonstrates how important it is that the new public health grants are distributed to councils in line with local need. However, analysis of the allocation of public health grants announced in January this year reveals that, in many cases, the opposite is true.”

Health minister Anna Soubry dismissed the figures when Mr Healey challenged her in the Commons on this issue this week.

He asked: “Why is the public health grant for next year £58 per person in Barnsley and £53 per person in Rotherham, but £130 per person in Westminster and in Kensington and Chelsea, especially given that deprivation is less and life expectancy at least seven years longer in those wealthy, Tory, London boroughs?”

Ms Soubry answered: “I do not accept that for one moment.”