Research and Analytics

Environmental Services

Environmental Health Statistics


September 2006
The core functions are housing standards, pollution control, noise control, health safety & welfare, food safety, porthealth, infectious diseases, health education, animal welfare, licensing and other public health. See page 100 for fulldefinitions.

In 1997-98 the statistics were amended to present a functional rather than departmental analysis of expenditure andactivity. This is to recognise that, increasingly, many of the core functions identified in the survey are undertaken outsideof the environmental health department. For this reason extreme care is needed when making comparisons withprevious years.

GROSSING METHODOLOGY

In order to allow more meaningful comparisons to be made, class totals in the commentary have been 'grossed up' to takeaccount of missing data and non-response. Where an authority replied to last year's survey then data have been weightedaccording to the general trend shown by authorities returning information in 2004-05. Distribution of the data has beeninferred from the observed pattern in the previous year's survey. Where no return was received from the authority in thatyear, then the figures have been 'grossed-up' on a pro-rata basis according to population as estimated by the individuallocal authorities at June 2004.

INTRODUCTION

'Environmental health' is a diverse function covering a range of activities from 'air pollution' to 'waste monitoring'. Theservices comprising the 'core functions' in this survey aim to 'prevent' the breakdown of public health and safety. Inperforming this duty local authority gross expenditure during 2004-05 is estimated to have been 823m. The averagenet expenditure per head of population is 11.48 (including capital charges) in England and Wales.

BACKGROUND

The interest in public health is increasing and is currently being viewed by many as the 'new agenda'. In 2001 the SelectCommittee on Health endorsed the role of local authorities in light of the new 'well-being' powers given to them in the LocalGovernment Act 2000.

'Local authorities have a vital role to play in improving the health of their communities and have influence over a greaternumber of factors affecting health than the local NHS. We strongly support their new power to promote well-being andrecommend that this leads to public health being at the core of their initiatives and strategies' (Select Committee onHealth, 2001).

In November 2004 the government issued a white paper on public health that spoke of the 'new Public Health'. However,the very reason for the existence of local authorities was to improve and safeguard public health, the earliest authoritiesbeing set up as 'Sanitary Authorities' and playing a major role in the prevention and minimisation of disease andimprovements in living and working standards.

Public and environmental health are an inescapably important aspect of our lives and have been for many years. Indeed,air pollution controls dating back to 1273, when the burning of coal in London was prohibited, serve as an example ofthis. The Clean Air Act 1956 which introduced controls over grit, dust and smoke from domestic fires and industrialprocess, gave local authorities for the first time, a significant role in pollution control. The Clean Air Act 1956 was a reactionto the London smog of December 1952, which lasted five days and contributed to approximately 4,000 deaths.Environmental legislation and policy will continue to require updating and amending in reaction to the ever changingenvironmental agenda as new situations arise. Accurate environmental data will always be required to help set policiesand support the policy makers.

More in depth coverage of the current issues and developments can be found in the Institute's Technical InformationServices information stream, 'Environmental Services' found at www.tisonline.net.

To give an indication of the different types of properties that require monitoring by environmental health departments,tables one and two below analyse the total number of hereditaments according to specific categories.

Analysis of Dwelling Stock at 1 April
Premises Subject to Local Authority Inspection at 1 April
The Trend in Qualified Environmental Health Officers
The work of Environmental health departments calls for several specialist skills. Columns 21 to 32 of the main statisticaltables provide a breakdown of full time equivalent staff numbers by category employed at 31st March 2005. Table threesummarises this information.

Staffing and Activity Analysis

Environmental Health Staff (FTE) at 31 March 2005
The work of Environmental health departments calls for several specialist skills. Columns 21 to 32 of the main statisticaltables provide a breakdown of full time equivalent staff numbers by category employed at 31st March 2005. Table threesummarises this information.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH STAFF (FTE) AT 31 March 2005
Table three shows that the average EHO per million population is 72.0, down from 74.2 last year. This trend couldcontinue in future years as the number of student EHO's has fallen from 5.0 per million population to 4.8.

ENFORCEMENT ACTION

The level of enforcement action varies considerably between authorities, but in aggregate terms demonstrates thenecessity for the monitoring of public health standards in the community. Table four identifies the number of summonsesserved and formal cautions given in 2004-05.

SUMMONSES SERVED AND FORMAL CAUTIONS GIVEN IN 2004-05
Table five provides a summary of expenditure and income in 2004-05, relating to the core functions of the environmentalhealth service over a subjective analysis breakdown.

SUMMARY OF INCOME AND EXPENDITURE 2004-05 (SUBJECTIVE ANALYSIS)
Whilst estimated gross expenditure, including capital charges, has increased by 5.3% since 2003-04, income hasincreased by 8.9% over the same period. As a result, total net expenditure, including capital charges, of 609m,shows an increase of 4.1% over 2003-04, compared to an average increase in the RPI of 3.2% during the same period.

Table six shows expenditure and staffing trends over the past five years.

FIVE YEAR TRENDS IN EXPENDITURE AND INCOME
INTER-AUTHORITY COMPARISONS

Variations in the pattern of environmental health provision occur as there are considerable environmental differenceschallenging councils throughout the country. The pressures arising from natural and man made hazards are such thateach local authority has to fix its own priorities for maintaining environmental standards within its own area. This makesthe practice of statistical comparisons between authorities dangerous, and perhaps obscure, as this service, in particular,does not lend itself to the establishment of expenditure norms.

IMPLICATIONS OF FRS17

The full implementation of Financial Reporting Standard FRS17 was introduced to the Code of Practice on LocalAuthority Accounting in the United Kingdom, A Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) and thus CIPFA'sBest Value Accounting Code of Practice (BVACOP) from 1 April 2003. This resulted in a significant change in theway of accounting for retirement benefits. Under the previous arrangements the amount of retirement benefitexpenditure recognised was the employer's contribution to the pension fund or in the case of an unfunded schemepayments to pensioners for whom the employer had direct responsibility. This meant that the revenue accountdid not reflect the true economic cost of pension benefits earned by employees in the year. The new FRS17 approachseeks to measure the true economic cost of the pension benefit earned by employees in the year and recognises thisas the expenditure for the year.

Those authorities that have responded using the FRS17 reporting basis have been identified in the main statistics with'#'. Since not all of these authorities were able to provide details of their expenditure on a pre FRS17 basis, only thosewith information on expenditure before and after adjusting for FRS17 have been included in the analysis shown below.

TABLE 8 : IMPACT OF FRS17 ON ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NET CURRENT EXPENDITURE 2004-05
Whilst the effect of FRS17 appears insignificant, readers should be careful when comparing figures provided on a differentaccounting basis as the impact may be larger at an individual authority level.


September 2006

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