Budget an alarming neglect of public health, says CIEH

27 October 2021, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has again raised serious concerns about the UK Government’s commitment to public health as the Chancellor refused to support local authority apprentices in today’s budget.

In the lead-up to today’s budget, CIEH made three separate submissions to the Chancellor’s Spending Review. One alongside the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), another with the Local Government Association (LGA), and a final submission in coalition with the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH).

CIEH’s submissions included the call for the UK Government to implement the recommendations of its own Cross Government Review and highlighted the need to create a ring-fenced bursary scheme of £14m for local authorities to recruit new Regulatory Compliance Officer (RCO) apprentices.

CIEH contributed to the Cross Government Regulatory Services Working Group conducted by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). The Working Group, originally set up to review the work of the regulatory services professions during the COVID-19 pandemic, was instrumental in helping local government to protect the public by supporting businesses and communities with trading standards and environmental health expertise. Without this expertise, the journey out of lockdown would not have been so efficient, nor the return back to post-COVID working so smooth.

However, having worked so closely with the Government on this review, and its recommendations, CIEH has expressed dismay that funding for apprentices has been neglected.

Dr Phil James, CIEH Chief Executive, said:

“Having worked so closely with the UK Government over the last 9 months on their own review of regulatory services and their vital role throughout the pandemic, we are extremely disappointed to see that they have refused to meet one of their own recommendations.

Environmental and public health professionals played a key role in combatting COVID-19, issuing guidance, supporting test and trace, and helping businesses navigate lockdowns. The decision to neglect supporting apprentices in these important professions raises questions about the Government’s commitment to public health. 

It is especially confusing in light of the very limited funding required to meet this commitment and its close alignment with the Government’s own levelling-up agenda.

We have written to both the new Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, urging them to show their support for public health across our country and urgently review their approach to public health apprenticeships.” 

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