Health and well-being should be at the heart of all government policymaking according to a new report from UK member of Parliament Kim Leadbeater, who has called for a major transformation in the way the government protects the health and well-being of all citizens.
The Labour MP for the Batley and Spen constituency, says government departments should work much more closely together – as well as partner with local authorities, businesses, physical activity organisations and other entities – to create a healthier nation.
A healthier population would be more productive and boost economic growth, and prioritising prevention and early intervention would reduce public expenditure by reducing the need for costly treatments.
The report, published by The Fabian Society – a British socialist organisation – makes the case that, just as it has become commonplace to evaluate policy through a ‘green lens’ to determine environmental sustainability, a ‘health and wellbeing lens’ should also be applied during decision making.
"By adopting a comprehensive strategy towards improving the health and wellbeing of the country and its citizens, Labour can offer a fresh and positive vision for Britain’s future," Leadbeater said.
"A future where not every problem is answered simply by throwing more money at it.
"Where prevention and early intervention take priority; and where investing time, energy and resources in people’s health and wellbeing helps them as individuals, supports families, communities and businesses and helps us all become more prosperous, more productive and happier."
The proposed policies in the report include the following:
• Making physical education a core subject at secondary schools and having trained PE specialists in all primary schools.
• Putting physical literacy and wellbeing at the heart of a ‘curriculum for life’.
• Supporting positive mental health from an early age and throughout life.
• Increasing social prescribing and curbing the over-prescribing of drugs and medication.
• Enforcing legally binding standards for healthy homes and town and country planning.
• Giving communities the power to promote social well-being locally.
• Establishing ring-fenced budgets for active travel schemes.
• Offering incentives for businesses to support a healthy workforce.
The report has been welcomed by the industry body, UK Active.
CEO Huw Edwards said: “This policy report provides a thoughtful analysis of the importance of improving health and wellbeing in our society and bold ideas for how the physical activity sector can play its fullest role in helping deliver those improvements.
“Many of these recommendations build on the work of industry leaders in the sector, particularly on the role of activity in workplace wellbeing and health inequality. We're pleased to see this report consider how to leverage both the public and private sectors to make progress.
“Following the recent Spring Budget, it's clear our health and well-being are holding our nation back. Projections are that ill health costs the UK economy £150bn a year – having increased by 60 per cent in the past six years. Addressing this is now essential for any government.
“We hope this report stimulates both debate and action in Parliament in the coming weeks and months and contributes to the shared ambition to improve the physical, mental, and social well-being of the nation.”