LA's will be responsible for obese people's benefits
Conservative council suggests local authorities should be responsible for removing obese people's benefits if they fail to take exercise.
Obese and unhealthy people may be prescribed exercise by their GP as LA's will become responsible for well-being and health within communities as an extension of localism
Proposals published by Westminster council and the Local Government Information Unit say that technologies such as smart cards will be used to monitor if an unhealthy person has taken the prescribed activities such as going to the gym, swimming, walking or yoga.
If they are found not to be attending, they may have their welfare benefit payments reduced to incentivise staying healthy.
The report by the Conservative council, A Dose of Localism: the Role of Councils in Public Health, comes after Local Authorities are given the responsibility for community well-being and public health from the NHS. It is to advise LA's on how best to manage this new responsibility amid rising obesity and severe budget cuts, and found this a way to save money and incentivise staying healthy as some councils have introduced schemes where doctors can prescribe exercise.
The report says:
Where an exercise package is prescribed to a resident, housing and council tax benefit payments could be varied to reward or incentivise residents.
Professor John Wass of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) says we need to be prepared to deal with more complex obesity cases; he said:
For people to lose weight, they must want to lose weight, and I have concerns about forcing the public to exercise. If we want to solve a problem this big, we need to look at the bigger picture.
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