Council to cut £33,000 from York public health budget

Sharon Stoltz, director of public health, has been at the forefront of York's efforts against coronavirus

York’s public health team – which has led the response to the pandemic in the past year – is set to have £33,000 cut from its budget as the council faces tough decisions to balance the books.

Other cuts on the horizon include a Mansion House review of staffing set to save £72,000 and restructures and reductions in staffing across a range of council departments.

City of York Council is setting its budget for the next year. Despite plans to increase council tax by the maximum amount, 4.99 per cent, the local authority needs to make savings of nearly £8 million as it reels from the impact of the pandemic.

A meeting yesterday heard £33,000 will be saved in the public health budget under plans to “restructure the service to operate more efficiently”.

It heard that the council’s health and adult social care services are under extra pressure due to Covid – but that nearly £3 million of savings have had to be found in the budget for the next year.

Amanda Hatton, director of people at the council, said: “Covid has absolutely added to to those challenges and increased demand in this area significantly.

“One of the questions was ‘are all of these savings necessary and do all of these savings need to be met this year?’

“Sadly yes is the answer to both of those. We are in a position where we have to make the savings this year, recognising that previous years savings haven’t been made.

“It is a challenging picture. There are a number of savings that are going to be difficult to achieve.”

Long-term impacts

Staffing at York Mansion House is being reviewed. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

A council survey found that residents top budget priority is the city’s public health response to the pandemic, including support for mental health.

Sharon Stoltz, director of public health, said: “The proposals in the budget for public health are really around how we can realise savings by restructuring some of the service areas in public health and to be able to reinvest that funding into other priorities.

“The government has maintained the public health grant allocation for next year but has not increased it.

“We have a range of public health priorities that have emerged particularly as a result of the long-term impacts of the pandemic.”

The council is also looking to save

  • more than £3.2 million from the finance and performance budget
  • £212,000 from housing and neighbourhoods
  • more than £1.3 million from the children and education and leisure and culture budgets
  • and £155,000 total from the combined economy and planning, environment and climate change, and transport budgets.

The savings include staff restructures across teams including ICT, facilities and finance teams.

And the council expects to save £375,000 on office accommodation as it looks to have more staff work from home.

Other savings could come from charging the owners of holiday lets £180 a year for bin collections as well as increasing fees for using tip services like getting rid of trade waste and bulky waste.

The Lib Dem and Green Party led council will also invest in areas including mental health support, adult social care and support for children and a pandemic recovery fund.

Have your say on the budget plans by 31 January by visiting york.gov.uk/budget.