Sector leaders join politicians in Westminster to drive physical activity agenda

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21 March 2017

Leaders of the physical activity sector met with MPs and Peers last night (20th March) at ukactive’s annual Parliamentary reception as part of the not-for-profit’s ongoing mission to drive the physical agenda in the heart of Westminster.

The MYZONE-sponsored political event – one of the highlights of the physical activity sector calendar - brought ukactive members and partners together with nearly 50 leading Parliamentarians for an exclusive evening of networking and discussion.

The Reception took place in the State Rooms of the Speakers House, by kind permission of Rt Hon John Bercow MP. It saw sector leaders strengthening connections in the corridors of power and ensuring close alignment between Government strategy and the aims of the physical activity sector.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch spoke about progress made in the past year on the Sporting Future strategy, while championing the role the physical activity sector can play delivering the Government’s vision for a more active nation. The audience included Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health Penny Mordaunt, as well as top representatives from Nuffield Health, GLL, Bannatyne’s and Pure Gym.

ukactive Chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson also spoke, taking the attending stakeholders through ukactive’s 2017 parliamentary workplan, which has seen meetings with 25 senior parliamentarians and fifteen separate questions asked in the House of Commons on various aspects of the government’s plans for tackling physical inactivity. She outlined several policy recommendations, including the expansion of the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme to include gym passes and fitness products.

ukactive is currently putting the case to government for a 'Workout from Work' scheme having conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the economic outcomes of enacting the policy with accountancy specialist Safferys. The scheme proposes the inclusion of corporate gym memberships and corporate gym memberships and home-activity equipment to be purchased tax-free in the same manner as bicycles.

Other key policy recommendations include the call for a £1bn regeneration scheme to save the NHS by transforming the UK's ageing fleet of leisure centres into its new preventative frontline. This would leverage cross-sector funding to replace 1970s-era leisure centres with community wellness hubs, combining swimming pools and gyms with GP drop-in centres and police services to create a one-stop-shop for public services. This policy has featured on the BBC’s Daily Politics TV show and will see Baroness Grey-Thompson and Clive Betts MP touring a pioneering wellness hub in Sheffield next week.

Following the publication of the Childhood Obesity Strategy last August, ukactive is continuing to call on Government to ensure revenue from the sugar levy is filtered into activity programs outside the school gates alongside the planned increases for funding for schools’ sport and PE.

These policy recommendations form the basis for ukactive’s long-term Parliamentary plan, as the organisation looks to work with Government to embed physical activity into schools, the workplace and the NHS.

Speaking at the Parliamentary Reception, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said:

“Since the release of the Sporting Future strategy, definite progress has been made, but there is still more to do to build an active Britain. Partnerships like those with ukactive and the wider physical activity sector have a major role to play in supporting the government to deliver a healthier nation”.

ukactive's Chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said:

“Our work across the whole of Westminster is a central tenet of our mission to drive the physical activity agenda and translate that into real policy that can transform the health of the nation.

“There has been definite progress in the past year since the publication of the Government’s Sporting Future strategy document, but we must ensure this momentum does not fall by the wayside. ukactive will work ever more closely with Parliament to maintain concerted policy focus on building a more active nation.”

Event sponsor MYZONE CEO and Creator Dave Wright said:

“It is both an honour and a privilege to support one of leading political events the UK physical activity sector has been involved in. Partnerships with government, NGBs, private, public and even virtual facilities are critical to getting this country moving. We are proud that through the use of technology such as MYZONE, we are at the forefront of the digital revolution to help amplify the engagement of getting more people more active more often.”

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