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09 Jul 2024
UK could be the most active nation in Europe with £75.6 billion economic impact says NSPG
By Kath Hudson
UK could be the most active nation in Europe with £75.6 billion economic impact says NSPG
The industry is having a profound impact on population health
Photo: Sport for Confidence
The UK's National Sector Partners Group (NSP) has called on the new government to pledge to make the UK the most physically active nation in Europe, which it says would deliver an additional £3.6 billion in economic growth, £1 billion in NHS savings and £71 billion in wellbeing benefits.

In a joint statement, the partners – Active Partnerships, CIMSPA, Sport for Development Coalition, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, UK Active and the Youth Sport Trust – have asked prime minister, Keir Starmer, to embed physical activity as a priority right across Whitehall. “It needs to be led from the very top of government,” they said.

“The new government has an incredible opportunity to deploy our sector to transform public health and stimulate economic growth,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active. “If we can unlock our sector’s potential and give more people the chance to be physically active, we can transform our nation’s future.

“[Health clubs], gyms, pools and leisure centres are part of the fabric of our communities, providing a safe and supportive environment for people of all ages and backgrounds to be active together," he continued. "They also represent frontline support for the NHS, as the home to rehabilitation and treatment for a growing range of health conditions, supporting people to get healthy and back into work.”

Cross departmental working looks likely to be a hallmark of the new government, which has announced it will create Mission Delivery Boards, chaired by the prime minister, to put Labour’s manifesto commitments into action.

These cross-departmental groups will be designed to progress five key pledges – driving economic growth, reforming the health service, investing in clean energy, reforming the crime and justice system and improving opportunity through a new skills agenda.

While all these areas have a bearing on the physical activity sector, it is not yet clear whether the sector will benefit from direct interventions.

The cross-departmental approach being implemented echoes policies proposed by Kim Leadbeater, newly elected as MP for Batley and Spen, who published a report with the Fabian Society in March 2023, called Healthy Britain: A new approach to health and wellbeing policy.

Healthy Britain outlined a vision for wellbeing in the UK, advocating that it should be a priority for all government departments, have a cross-departmental function and not be limited to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Footnote

Chris Bryant has been appointed minister of state for the DCMS, while the new secretary of state is Lisa Nandy. They were appointed on 5 July 2024.

Policy relating to the physical activity sector has not yet been published by the new government.

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