Obese Londoners Could Lose Benefits

3 January 2013, 11:38 | Updated: 3 January 2013, 11:41

Overweight benefit claimants could have their money docked if they refuse exercise regimes prescribed by doctors under one London council's plans.

Smart cards could also be brought in by Westminster,  to monitor the use of leisure centres meaning the local authority could reduce welfare payments for those who fail to follow their GP's advice.

The introduction of the Oyster-style cards is one of a number of radical proposals designed to tackle rising levels of obesity set out in a report by Westminster council and a local government thinktank.

It comes as local authorities prepare to take on responsibility for public health services as part of a major overhaul to be launched in April.

Several councils have already introduced schemes that allow doctors to prescribe exercise at local facilities including swimming pools, gyms, yoga and walking clubs.

Westminster council say they will operate a carrot and stick approach and offer financial rewards when overweight claimants made an effort to comply with prescribed activity routines.

The council hopes its proposals will lead to savings across the community as Britain's population ages and becomes increasingly overweight.