Leeds councillors slam ‘appalling’ in-year budget cut expected to cost city £3million

Chancellor George Osborne. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/ PA Wire.
Chancellor George Osborne. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/ PA Wire.

An expected £3million cut to the public health budget in Leeds will be a “Herculean task” to overcome, councillors have claimed.

Leeds City Council’s health scrutiny board slammed Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to slash £200m nationally from the public health pot today and its impact on Leeds.

It comes well after the local authority approved the year’s programme of spending cuts for the financial year, meaning the council will have to find the savings from this year’s budget.

The extent of the cut is yet to be officially confirmed but the council believes its impact will be a full £3m.

It equates to over seven per cent of Leeds’ £40.5m public health fund that pays for the likes of school nurses, drug and alcohol services and children’s centres.

Coun Peter Gruen, chair of the board, said: “The situation of making very significant cuts that are potentially up to £3m for Leeds is a Herculean task.”

His comments were echoed by Dr Ian Cameron, the council’s director of public health, who said he was told the Department of Health was given just three hours’ notice of the decision and was itself “appalled”.

Osborne’s decision has been criticised by the likes of Macmillan Cancer Support, Diabetes UK and the Royal College of Midwives which stated the cuts will harm the nation’s health and the aim to prevent illness.

Coun Brian Selby fears the council may now need to look at deals already agreed with partners, which if cancelled could damage trust in future.

He added: “This could well happen next year that we get an in-year cut – there’s no way anybody can do any proper planning.”