At today’s meeting of Durham County Council, Councillor Owen Temple has confirmed that he has had discussions with Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat minister at the Department of Health. The minister has assured him that the interim formula on which future public health spending will be based, and which has given rise to speculation about £20 million cuts to public health spending in Durham, is not set in stone. Speaking to Councillor Temple, Norman Lamb confirmed that for the future the independent body which recommends how the money should be distributed is keen to work out a more evidence based formula to reflect the underlying health issues which councils have to tackle. The formula will be directed towards supporting and rewarding councils which tackle the gap between their healthiest and least healthy communities.
The Care and Support Health Minister also repeated the assurance, well known to Durham County Council, that no local authority will get less money for Public Health spending in 2013-14 than in the current year, so Durham is fully protected whilst further work is done on how budgets are to be distributed.
Commenting on these discussions Councillor Temple said: “I am heartened to have a Liberal Democrat minister at the heart of government in Westminster, committed to people across this country getting a fair deal based on their health needs. I’m proud that this government is introducing a new legal duty on councils to reduce the scandalous gap between our richer and poorer communities, and frankly appalled that some councillors appear more interested in running politically motivated scare stories than working together to secure the best possible public health funding and services for the people of Durham.”