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ukactive has issued the following statement after the Prime Minister today (22 May) called a General Election for 4 July.

The General Election called today comes at a critical time for the UK as the nation manages soaring levels of ill-health, the ongoing cost of living crisis, record numbers of people out of work due to long-term sickness, and a health service that is crippled by ever-increasing demand.

Any new Government must recognise there is no growth without health. The nation needs to see political will and clear commitment to prioritise addressing the declining state of the nation’s health and wellbeing, including physical activity levels which rank 11th in Europe.

The physical activity sector is already playing its part in tackling these issues, but any future Government must work urgently with the sector to raise awareness of the value of physical activity and the essential services provided by our gyms, pools, leisure centres and other facilities.

Each of the UK’s main political parties must commit to the following priority areas if they are serious about transforming the health of the nation, boosting the economy, and helping people return to, and stay in, work:

  • Drive integration of physical activity sector and NHS – Commit to developing and formalising the integration of the physical activity and leisure sector with the NHS to allow people to access treatment pathways in community settings.


  • Grow the sector to help more people to maintain their health – Provide the right environment for growth through wholesale tax and regulatory review and reform, including business rates and VAT.


  • Tackle economic inactivity – Musculoskeletal (MSK) and mental health conditions are leading causes of people falling out of the workplace. Part of the solution is getting people more active before conditions develop. Incentivisation through policy solutions such as extending the Cycle to Work scheme to include other physical activity opportunities, can help to drive up activity levels, as can increasing physical activity referrals for those living with those conditions.


  • Invest in public leisure – Long-term capital investment is needed to future proof facilities, enabling them to continue providing essential services to communities, while saving councils money and reducing their carbon footprint.


  • Improve levels of activity among children – The Government must recognise the importance of giving children the best opportunity to be active, by committing to the continuation of a ringfenced three-year Opening School Facilities investment of £57m and continuing sustainable provision of PE and school sport.

ukactive will ensure that the voice of its members is heard throughout the election campaign and in its ongoing conversations with the main parties.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “The next Government has a golden opportunity to capitalise on the instrumental role physical activity can play in supporting the health of the nation and directly reducing levels of economic inactivity by improving public health.

“We must see our party leaders, as a matter of urgency, deploy the physical activity sector to help save the NHS and turbocharge the economy.

“Our sector is already supporting the nation in managing more than 20 long-term health conditions, providing essential support to people while reducing pressure on the NHS through preventative health solutions in the community.

“As the parties embark on their election campaigns, they must consider serious strategies to help make the UK the most active nation in Europe by working with our sector.

“Physical activity is the driving force in shaping the health of children and young people, in ensuring the health and productivity of the nation’s workforce, in supporting an ageing society, helping people manage and improve long-term health conditions and in providing deeper connections within communities.

“ukactive will continue to work closely with and engage all the major political parties to ensure the importance our sector is properly recognised through the campaign.

“It is time to focus on the health of the nation and ukactive’s policy asks provide the levers for growth and change that our citizens deserve.”


ukactive will be providing regular analysis and updates to members throughout the General Election campaign. To find out more or join, click here.