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Tax breaks for healthy living urged

Tax breaks for people living healthy lives would save the NHS money in the long term, the Liberal Democrats claim.

They have said that health authorities should be given the financial freedom to offer such incentives in a "fundamental shift of power" away from Whitehall.

Health spokesman Norman Lamb told the party conference in Bournemouth: "We'll give communities the power to raise a proportion of revenues locally. Then our health boards can innovate to enable and encourage local people to improve their health.

"Incentives could be offered to encourage employers to provide fitness facilities or gym membership to overweight people who can't afford the normal fees. Health boards could follow Nova Scotia's lead by offering a tax back payment for each child enrolled in sports or activity clubs.

"Or they could adapt a scheme from South Africa that incentivises adults who attend check-ups, nutrition assessments or preventive screening tests.

"Using locally raised resources, why shouldn't Health Boards create direct incentives - tax-back payments - particularly focusing on disadvantaged communities? For the same price as a packet of cigarettes, people could get a weekly helping hand to improve their health."

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Do you think that people who live healthy lives deserve tax breaks? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"This is definitely a good idea. Why is it that those individuals in society who lead healthy lifestyles work long hours and abide by the law recieve no incentives, whereas if you were a drug abuser who had no job, committed criminal offences, etc, get every government benefit - what do they contribute towards society. That is why I am emigrating to Australia." - Name and address supplied