Council comms teams lack resources for public health challenge

Almost half of local authority comms teams do not have the resources needed for the handover of responsibility for public health, according to latest research.

Transfer: Health campaigns like Change4Life will be managed locally
Transfer: Health campaigns like Change4Life will be managed locally

The study, carried out by Linstock Communications, has revealed that 48 per cent of comms heads at local government level said they did not have the resources to manage next April’s landmark transfer.

Next year, local authorities will be handed the responsibility for public health issues including obesity and smoking.

The figures follow PRWeek's revelation on 5 September that local government communicators’ mouthpiece LGComms was set to hold meetings over the issue with those affected.

Jon Bennett, MD of Linstock Communications, felt the figure was symptomatic of a comms landscape that has been hit by central government cuts. He said: ‘The issue is one you might expect to see given the current environment, but it would be a shame if for lack of resources local government was not able to seize the opportunity.’

The survey, which was sent to all local councils and received a 30 per cent response rate, revealed that although 95 per cent of authorities planned to develop a comms strategy to address public health, 40 per cent did not have their strategy in place already. 

Head of comms at Hounslow Council Andy Allsopp is overseeing LGComms’ public health meetings, which will run until the end of the year.

He said the results pointed to regional disparities in terms of readiness, adding: ‘The interesting element is the lack of clarity about how much resource will transfer from the NHS in terms of marketing budgets for public health activities. That will be a key factor in terms of how much councils are or are not able to do.’

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