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UK government spend on physical activity 'lowest in Europe'

By Tom Walker    04 Oct 2023
Physical activity saves the UK £9.5 billion a year in health costs – but could have more impact if activity levels increased / Shutterstock.com/Ground Picture
UK spends the smallest proportion of general government expenditure on recreation and sport of all European countries
UK also ranks joint 11th out of 15 comparable European nations for levels of physical activity
The figures come from a report published by the Sport and Recreation Alliance
The publication coincided with industry bodies calling on political parties to pledge to make the UK the "most active" in Europe

The UK is at the bottom of the pile when it comes to investing in physical activity.

Figures published by the Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) show that UK spends the smallest proportion of general government expenditure on recreation and sport of all European countries.

UK is also among the least active European nations, as it currently ranks joint 11th out of 15 comparable European nations for levels of physical activity.

The data comes from a research report, called Making the UK the Most Active Nation in Europe.

The publication coincided with the National Sector Partners Group – made up of the SRA, UK Active, Active Partnerships, the Local Government Association, CIMSPA, the Sport for Development Coalition and the Youth Sport Trust – calling for all political parties to make a pledge to establish the UK as the most active nation in Europe.

The pledge highlights that community sport, recreation and physical activity currently saves the NHS £9.5 billion every year by preventing illness and generates £85 billion annually in economic value.

However, the group says the value generated by the sector could be far greater if the UK can reach the activity levels of its European peers and work towards the group’s ambition of making the UK the most active nation in Europe.

The sector bodies forecast savings of up to £1 billion in healthcare spending linked to inactivity, alongside the generation of an additional £3.6 billion per annum in GDP uplift through increased productivity and realising up to £77.2 billion in increased wellbeing benefits.

They're calling for a new partnership with the Government that unlocks the potential of physical activity.

Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active, said: “There's a collective determination across the sport, recreation, and physical activity sector to ensure its full potential is unlocked in order to make urgent improvements to our national health and wellbeing.

"As we enter the countdown to the next General Election, we want each of the main political parties to meet our ambition and commit to this pledge.

“This pledge is a first step in recognising the impact of physical activity on our health and wellbeing and in turn on the productivity of this country."

UK active  Sport and recreation alliance  National Sector Partners Group  Active Partnerships  Local Government Association  CIMSPA 
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