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LivingWell Appeals to Government and Key Workers

On the eve of fitness industry leaders meeting with Government ministers to
discuss the burgeoning obesity and health crisis within the nation’,
LivingWell, the health club division of the Hilton Group Plc, calls upon the
Government to re-examine their policy of charging VAT on such a preventative
health benefit as health club membership.
Patrick Fitzgibbon, Managing Director of LivingWell said, “Given the
undeniable benefits of exercise to the health of the nation as outlined in
the Chief Medical Officer’s report to the Government, it is disappointing
that such a positive activity continues to attract VAT.  What is urgently
required is a lowering of any barrier to participation in exercise. At a
time when GP’s are ‘prescribing’ fitness, health club membership should have
the same zero VAT status as traditional prescriptions. It seems ludicrous to
tax exercise only to use those taxes to fund treatment for diseases such as
Coronary Heart Disease when prevention is clearly best for everyone.”

LivingWell is appealing to the Government to reconsider this policy, but
realises that such a change will take time. To help re-enforce the
Government’s ‘Big Conversation’ proposal3, LivingWell has taken the
initiative to directly support Key Workers who are charged with supporting
the health of the nation by announcing the launch of a special category of
membership for these sectors.  Launched today, this new category of
membership costs just £25.00 per month plus VAT, is available to medical
health workersa, teachers, ambulance crews, police and fire-fighters.  An
initial 10,000 places have been set-aside at this rate.

“With adult obesity levels currently running at 22%, this new membership is
designed to encourage greater participation and awareness of the health
benefits that membership can bring to Key Workers who are widely perceived
as role models for the public. Sadly, we still have to charge VAT, but we
hope that Key Workers recognise the tremendous value that this proposal
represents and take us up on this genuine offer”, said Fitzgibbon.

The Key Workers membership is available from 1st May 2004 at all of
LivingWell’s 86 clubs across the country.  Contact LivingWell on 0870 600
7001 for full details or visit