More money has been announced for public health in Cornwall, as councils work to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

But health bosses warn years of cuts across England have impacted councils' capacity to deal with the outbreak, while a delay in revealing funding levels for April onwards has left them struggling to plan effectively.

Local authorities in England have a range of public health responsibilities, which include planning for and responding to health threats such as the outbreak of infectious diseases.

Spending on public health is funded by the Government, through the ring-fenced Public Health Grant, and is used to deliver a range of services including sexual health, drug and alcohol addiction, and school nursing.

New figures show Cornwall Council is set to receive a funding boost of 5.3 per cent for 2020-21, ​above the average funding increase of 4.6 per cent across England.

That will give it £26.1 million, up from £24.8 million last year.

But with just two weeks to go until the start of the next financial year, the Local Government Association accused the Government of leaving councils "in the dark" at a time of utmost urgency.

Cornwall Council has seen its public health funding slashed in recent years, falling by £2 million (7.5 per cent) between 2016-17 and 2019-20.

That's the equivalent of a drop from £48.22 per person to £43.75.

The 2020-21 allocation will also remain lower than during 2016-17, when it was £26.8 million.

Across England, funding was cut by 7.5 per cent during the same period, falling from £3.4 billion to £3.1 billion.

But the Health Foundation charity says this does not take inflation into account, and that councils have seen an average cut of 23 per cent in real terms since 2015-16, when all public health responsibilities were transferred to them.

Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said the increase was a positive step forward after years of cuts.

"We now have the certainty the ADPH has been calling for since December and Directors of Public Health can focus on the nation's number one priority – ensuring the best possible response to coronavirus," she said.

But she cautioned the funding would not "reverse the staff and services lost overnight", or the impact that may have had on councils' capacity to prepare for outbreaks like coronavirus.

Local authority responsibilities during a health emergency include ensuring the social care system can cope, dealing with an additional number of deaths and burials, raising awareness of risks, surveillance of new cases, and ensuring people continue to receive essential care and services.

David Finch, senior fellow at the Health Foundation, said the coronavirus emergency reinforced the need for a properly funded, resilient local public health system.

He added: "Local authority public health teams have a vital part to play in the national response to COVID-19, working alongside the health care service."

A Department for Health and Social Care spokeswoman said separate government funding could be used to fund councils' wider preparedness for emergencies.

She added the increase in funding would allow local authorities "to continue to invest in prevention and essential frontline health services".