Posted: Thu, 14 Sep 2023 13:43
UK lags behind European neighbours on activity as sector bodies unite in drive to make the UK the most active nation in Europe
- UK currently ranks joint 12th out of 15 comparable European nations for levels of physical activity
- Community sport, recreation and physical activity currently saves the NHS £9.5 billion every year by preventing illness
- Parliamentarians from leading bodies across the sport, recreation and physical activity sector are launching a new pledge to make the UK the most physically active nation in Europe.
The leading bodies for the sport, recreation and physical activity sector have (13 September) made an urgent call to the main political parties and their leaders to pledge to make the UK the most active nation in Europe.
The latest evidence from the Sport and Recreation Alliance shows that the UK ranks joint 12th out of 15 comparable European nations for levels of physical activity. The UK is also ranked as the third highest spender on healthcare costs caused by inactivity and only 9th in overall wellbeing.
Today's call builds on the July 2022 report, Unlocking the Potential, published by the group, which is made up of Active Partnerships, the Local Government Association, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, the Sport for Development Coalition, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, ukactive, and the Youth Sport Trust.
The report highlights a number of potential policy interventions that could provide the conditions for the sector to grow. These include:
- Deeper collaboration between Government departments, agencies and the sector
- Development of a strong and consistent evidence base for importance of physical activity
- More and better targeted investment
- Bold and ambitious policy reform.
Parliamentarians from across the House joined representatives from the group to launch a new pledge to make the UK the most physically active nation in Europe.
The pledge highlights that community sport, recreation and physical activity currently saves the NHS £9.5 billion every year by preventing illness and generates £85 billion annually in economic value.
However, the value generated by the sector could be far greater if the UK can reach the activity levels of its European peers and work towards the group's ambition of making the UK the most active nation in Europe.
The sector bodies project savings of up to £1 billion in healthcare spending linked to inactivity, alongside the generation of an additional £3.6 billion per annum in GDP uplift through increased productivity and realising up to £77.2 billion in increased wellbeing benefits.
They are calling for a new partnership with the Government – both now and in the future – that unlocks the potential of sport, recreation and physical activity, and builds a future where:
- All children and adults are given the best chance to live well for longer
- Communities are safer, greener, healthier, and more connected
- Prevention leads to significantly less pressure on the NHS and other key public services
- Our economy is boosted by a healthier and more productive workforce.
Commenting at the launch, Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive said:
"There is a collective determination across the sport, recreation, and physical activity sector to ensure that its full potential is unlocked in order to make the urgent improvements to our national health and wellbeing. As we enter the countdown to the next General Election, we want each of the main political parties to meet our ambition and commit to this pledge.
"This pledge is a first step in recognising the impact of physical activity on our health and wellbeing, and in turn on the productivity of this country. Now we need Parliamentarians from across the House to drive this agenda forward, working closely with the entire sector to create a healthier, happier, and more prosperous nation."Andy Taylor, CEO of Active Partnerships, said:"We believe that this latest insight and data is extremely useful, and it clearly aligns with our network's ambition to create a healthier nation."This new NSPG pledge demonstrates a desire to get more people moving and there are clear health benefits to achieving this. This aim is at the heart of our work, and we know that Active Partnerships across England are already working hard to increase activity levels in local communities, focusing on supporting those people who face the biggest barriers so that everyone has an opportunity to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of a more active lifestyle.""We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with our network, our NSPG partners, Sport England and all political parties to help create a healthier nation."
For more detail about the research underpinning this pledge, please see our research pack here.
About the National Sector Partners Group
The NSPG is formed of:
- Active Partnerships
- Local Government Association
- The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA)
- The Sport for Development Coalition
- The Sport and Recreation Alliance
- The Youth Sport Trust
Through our collaborative work as sector partners, we aim to engage decision makers to improve the operating landscape for the sector and embed sport, recreation and physical activity as a key contributor to wider public policy objectives.
As part of wider work through the National Sector Partners Group (NSPG), in 2022 we published Unlocking the Potential which sets out how sport, recreation and physical activity can be integral to successfully delivering a number of key Government priorities including Levelling Up, driving economic growth, achieving Net Zero and supporting the NHS. The report also proposes a range of systemic interventions including access to investment, tax and regulatory changes and wider policy reform which the coalition believes are key to maximising this role.