London Guardian 
Jan 3, 2012
Obese and other unhealthy people could be monitored to check whether they are taking exercise and have their benefits cut if they fail to do so under proposals published on Thursday by a Conservative-run council and a local government thinktank.
Westminster council and the Local Government Information Unit say new technologies such as smart cards could be used to track claimants’ use of leisure centres, allowing local authorities to dock housing and council benefit payments from those who refuse to carry out exercise prescribed by their GP.
The report, A Dose of Localism: the Role of Councils in Public Health, precedes the transfer in April of responsibility for community wellbeing and public health from the NHS to local authorities.
The proposals address how councils can meet the financial challenges posed by their new public health function amid rising levels of obesity and major budget cuts. The report suggests linking benefit payments to claimants’ lifestyles, and notes that some councils have introduced schemes allowing GPs to prescribe exercise at swimming pools, yoga, gyms and walking clubs.