ukactive has issued the following statement following the result of the General Election 2019 today (13 December)
Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “ukactive offers its congratulations to the Conservatives and Prime Minister Boris Johnson for winning the General Election.
“We note the commitment from the Prime Minister during the campaign trail to turn his attention to domestic issues once the Brexit stalemate ends.
“The lack of attention from previous governments to physical activity has contributed to the current crisis in public health, with physical inactivity now recognised as the fourth greatest cause of disease and disability in the UK – linked to one in every six deaths and costing the economy £20bn annually.
“The new government must put physical activity at heart of the prevention agenda for our health service, recognising the full potential of the physical activity sector to deliver against this and other urgent societal challenges.
“Physical activity is the golden thread with the potential to address a myriad of issues, from shaping the health of children and young people to ensuring the health of the nation’s workforce, tackling loneliness and supporting an ageing society, to providing deeper connections within communities.
“It is time to focus on the health of the nation and we have a list of policies ready to implement that will make a significant impact – from making it easier for gyms to open on the high street, to opening schools over the holidays to provide activity clubs, and offering activity prescriptions to more people.
“We look forward to meeting with the new ministers within government once they are appointed, so that we can progress our policies and discuss new ways improve the landscape of physical activity in the UK.
“Now that the election is over, it is time for our sector to come together with one voice and to show the Government the evidence and convince them of the power of physical activity.”
Following ukactive’s chair Tanni Grey-Thompson’s call at the National Summit in October, ukactive wants to progress four main policy calls, in addition to other areas of work:
- Regenerating the high street through physical activity
Commit to addressing high rates of retail vacancy on the high street by changing the restrictive aspects of the ‘use class system’ to encourage fitness and leisure operators to open on the high street and primary business centres.
- Opening schools as community hubs to support children and families
ukactive’s Schools as Community Hubs model offers subsidised kids clubs over the holidays, with nutritious food and activities delivered by experts from the physical activity sector. All main political parties should commit to taking this model to national scale, starting from next summer, and reaching over 6,500 school facilities by 2022.
- Improving accessibility to active travel and wider activity opportunities for the nation’s workforce
Commit to expanding the Cycle to Work scheme to include a broader array of physical activity opportunities and accessories, including fitness trackers and gym memberships, and to commit to conducting a feasibility study with ukactive to explore how the fitness and leisure sector can strategically partner with active travel initiatives.
- Supporting older adults to access the health benefits of physical activity
Commit to ensure every recipient of long-term prescribed medication also receives an activity prescription providing guidance and support to increase their activity, and that any future Green or White Paper on social care makes prevention a key priority.