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October 22, 2020
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Statement: Responding to the announcement from government on £1 billion funding for councils this winter

Directors of Public Health and their teams have been under enormous pressure since the start of the year leading COVID-19 prevention and outbreak management for their communities and any additional funding is welcome. 

We would urge the Government to provide more clarity about what this funding is intended for and over what period so that councils can assess whether this – alongside other funding announcements – meets the overall breadth of their responsibilities and duties in relation to the COVID-19 response. This includes delivering local elements of the Test and Trace Service, communication and engagement to promote public health messages, advice and support for schools, care settings and other organisations, supporting businesses to be COVID-secure, helping people to self-isolate and mitigating inequalities. It looks unlikely that this package will meet the scale of these tasks over the next 6 months especially as many councils are already facing significant financial pressures even without extra spending on the COVID-19 response.

In relation to the Test and Trace Service, many councils have been picking up the failings of the national Test and Trace Service for weeks, if not months, and performing to an exceptionally high standard despite their limited resources to do so. This funding will help councils continue to follow up cases not reached by the national call centre. But unfunded additional duties should not be placed on local public health teams beyond what they are currently doing in relation to the Test and Trace Service. New burdens must be fully resourced.

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