Earlier today (26 October), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, Member of Parliament for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, secured a Westminster Hall debate on Public Health funding in Bexley. During the debate, Sir David called for “the unfairness in the public health funding formula to be looked at and addressed”.
Sir David expressed concern that Bexley receives the lowest Public Health Grant of the 32 London Boroughs and his view “that Bexley’s public health funding does not reflect its current population, public health needs or its ambitions to reduce health inequality”. He praised the “excellent leadership on Bexley Council”, particularly the political leadership under Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, and highlighted how he and Cllr O’Neill “are working very hard to persuade the Government that they need to look at the formula for public health funding for outer London boroughs such as Bexley”.
Sir David and Bexley Council both acknowledge and welcome the real-terms increase in the Public Health grant allocations nationally for 2021-22; however, he commented that “the main hindrance to Bexley is that the allocations granted remain largely dependent on historical patterns of spend before local authorities took over responsibility for public health”. He concluded by commenting that “this historic funding issue needs to be addressed so that we can be a lead on the challenges we have today, and those we face ahead. Bexley Council is innovative, takes the initiative and leads in many fields”.
The debate was answered by the Minister for Vaccines and Public Health, Maggie Throup MP, who agreed to having a meeting with Sir David and Cllr O’Neill to discuss the issues further.