Labour councillors have hit out at at cuts to Swindon council's public health budget

Figures released by the government show £366,000 has been lost this year.

There are major cuts to the budget for tackling substance abuse at £250,000 and a £148,000 cut to public health services for children.

One increased budget is for promotion of physical activity for both adults and children, which combined have £97,000 more.

Jim Grant, Labour group leader on Swindon Borough Council, said: “These cuts to public health budgets are cynical and wrong when drug-related deaths are at their highest ever, rates of STDs are rising and in Swindon we have more young children obese and in need of a child protection plans than the national average.

“The Tories’ short-sighted ideological cuts to services that keep families happy and healthy are leading to some terrible problems in Swindon. Not least the fact we have nearly double the number of children with child protection plans against the national average. When this is the case why is the government cutting £148,000 from public health services for children locally?

“Local services that are there to work with vulnerable families at an early stage to keep them well are being slashed in every part of England, and people in Swindon are suffering. Swindon is already the only large town or city in the country to close all its Children’s Centres.

“Labour locally as well as nationally, are determined to narrow health inequalities and prevent families falling in to crisis, by having funded programmes that support families at an early stage to give them the tools to stay health and prevent them falling in to crisis. One way we will do this is by reintroducing Children’s Centres that can support families in improving their health.”

The Conservative council's cabinet member for children's services, Coun Brian Ford responded:"Cuts, nationally, to the ring fenced Public Health Grant last year of 2.5 per cent has seen the Swindon grant reduce by £270,000. Despite this challenge we have ensured that the changes we have made will have minimal impact on service provision and we will continue to deliver the outcomes to improve health and wellbeing across the borough.

"At Swindon Borough Council we have been able to benefit from better commissioning of services by working more collaboratively with our partners to improve efficiencies. Examples of this include the re-commissioning of the Substance Misuse Services jointly with Public Health colleagues at Wiltshire Council earlier this year and utilising the opportunities of new technologies for example online testing and access for sexual health.

The provision of safe and effective Public Health Nursing Services continues to be a priority to ensure that all children in Swindon get the best start in life. Children’s health is one reason why we have introduced the excellent ‘Beat the Streets’ initiative. In partnership with Intelligent Health and Sport England, communities in and around Swindon can have fun whilst improving their health by getting fit in the great outdoors. Breaking down the barriers that prevent people leading active lifestyles will contribute enormously to the health of our town and the physical and mental wellbeing of our residents.”