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Using local authority entrance charges to tackle inequalities in physical activity?: A qualitative study of leisure and public health perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/09/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Public Health
<mark>State</mark>E-pub ahead of print
Early online date11/09/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Background
Reducing or eliminating entrance charges for the public use of leisure facilities is one potential tool that local authorities (LA) have to reduce inequalities in physical activity (PA). Facility charges are likely to be a greater barrier to access for those who have lower incomes.
Methods
Semi-structured 1-to-1 and group interviews were conducted with 33 leisure and public health professionals in seven LAs in north-west England. We investigated how approaches to pricing varied in these settings and rationales influencing decision making.
Results
Welfare orientated (e.g. affordability) and commercial drivers (e.g. income generation) featured most prominently across areas. Pricing policies placed less direct focus on public health goals, although tackling inactivity was articulated as part of leisure’s role more generally. Local targeting of free/concessionary offers was also defined and implemented differently. Decision makers described navigating competing pressures of providing services for the public ‘good’ yet remaining financially viable.
Conclusion
Many LAs are reviewing the extent of subsidy for facilities or are considering whether to invest public health budgets in leisure. The findings offer evidence of how pricing decisions are made and the approaches adopted in practice as well as the conflicting priorities for decision makers within an austerity context.

Bibliographic note

This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Public Health following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version E. Halliday, B. Barr, J. Higgerson, V. Holt, A. Ortiz-Nunez, F. Ward; Using local authority entrance charges to tackle inequalities in physical activity? A qualitative study of leisure and public health perspectives, Journal of Public Health, https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdx124 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/jpubhealth/article/4110325/Using-local-authority-entrance-charges-to-tackle