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Welfare payments could soon be linked to healthy lifestyles

Published on 03/01/2013

Westminster council is considering a new proposal which will link welfare payments to healthy lifestyles.

Medical insurance providers like PruHealth already operate reward schemes where members are offered discounted premiums for exercising and eating well.

But the latest proposal by Westminster council could see overweight benefit claimants having their payments cut if they refuse exercise regimes prescribed by doctors.

Set out in a report titled A Dose of Localism: The Role of Council in Public Health, the new measures would include giving GPs the power to prescribe leisure activities like swimming and fitness classes to overweight patients.

Smart cards could then be brought in to monitor the use of leisure centres, and the local authority could link attendance to welfare payments.

Resident, housing and council tax benefit payments could all be varied to incentivise benefits claimants.

The aim is to save £5bn from the NHS budget.

But health experts believe the proposals will not be successful. British Medical Association GP committee chairman Dr Buckman said:

"The best way [councils] can intervene is to stop restaurants and fast food chains providing the kind of food that make people put on weight, and interfere with the way foods are sold in shops."

With about a quarter of British adults currently obese, the NHS is facing mounting health problems related to the condition such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, sleep disorders and gynaecological disorders.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013


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