Environmental Health Services at Tipping Point Says Wales Audit Office
A new report from the Wales Audit Office (WAO) has voiced serious concerns about cuts to Environmental Health services. While it admits councils are finding ways to meet ‘most’ of their legal obligations there is concern how services will be delivered in the future. Food Safety and Pest Control are the two areas the auditors consider to be at particular risk.
In an attempt to protect the NHS the Welsh Government has slashed £146 million from local authority budgets in its latest settlement continuing a series of unprecedented cuts to funding. Figures released by WAO show that Environmental Health departments in Wales have been subject to an overall budget reduction of 4.2% and a 16.4% cut in staff numbers.
Huw Vaughan-Thomas Auditor General for Wales is worried that cuts are unsustainable. “Environmental health services affect every aspect of our lives. They play an important role in ensuring we retain healthy towns and neighbourhoods,” he said. “Incremental and reactive spending cuts mean that environmental health services are under growing pressure and at risk of becoming unsustainable. Councils need to find more efficient and effective ways of working if they are to continue to provide these important services to the Welsh public.”
The WAO report includes information from a public campaign it ran in January and is the first in a series looking at how council services are being delivered with ever decreasing budgets.
You can download a copy of “ Delivering with less – the impact on environmental health services and citizens” here.