CIEH has cautiously welcomed the additional funding for local authorities to tackle COVID-19 announced in the Chancellor’s budget.
The Chancellor outlined that local authorities had now received over £11 billion in additional funding since March 2020 to support efforts to tackle COVID-19, with a further £400 million funding in England for the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) from 1 April 2021.
Crucially, the UK Government will also now publish an updated COVID-19 contain outbreak management framework for local areas, setting out how national and local partners will continue to work with the public at a local level to prevent, contain and manage outbreaks. This will include details of the enhanced toolkit of measures to address Variants of Concern.
Environment Health Practitioners (EHPs) have played a vital role in supporting local authority activity to tackle COVID-19, from business closures and guidance, to test and trace. In the lead up to today’s budget, CIEH wrote to the Chancellor calling on him to commit to supporting the Environmental Health profession and to provide funding for new apprentices at local authority level.
Julie Barratt, CIEH President, said:
“We are pleased to see the support provided to local authorities to date, and the confirmation of some further funding in the coming year.
Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) have been classed as key workers from the beginning of the pandemic due to the vital role they have played in ensuring businesses comply with safety and Coronavirus Regulations as well as in supporting communities in a variety of ways.
However, even before the pandemic, there were serious shortages of qualified and experienced EHPs, leading to recruitment delays and difficulties for local authorities.
The upcoming COVID-19 management framework for local areas must include tangible measures to support Environmental Health and to commit funding for new apprentices.
The UK Government needs to support the wider Environmental Health workforce if it is to continue playing a pivotal role in protecting our public health going forwards.”