Evidence from a new study has measured the social and economic impact of the mass behaviour change physical activity programme Beat the Street and findings suggest that the programme could be up to six times as cost effective as the NHS in generating wellbeing impacts. This summer marks 10 years of Intelligent Health pioneering the whole-community intervention and since 2013 over 1.7 million participants have been engaged across more than 160 towns and cities.
Intelligent Health commissioned State of Life to estimate the wellbeing impact and value of the Beat the Street programme. Researchers from State of Life, applied the latest 2021 HM Treasury Green Book supplementary guidance on wellbeing, including the WELLBY, to assess the health and wellbeing impact attributable to Beat the Street and its equivalent monetary value.
In 2022 Beat the Street was delivered across 19 towns and cities where 160,598 people took part; of which 67,933 were adults. The change in life satisfaction was measured in seven of these areas by means of survey data collected for 1,992 adults who provided information about their life satisfaction and level of physical activity at two points in time, six weeks apart – one immediately before starting Beat the Street and one immediately after it.
State of Life analysed this data and produced a technical report finding that Beat the Street could be almost six times as cost-effective as the NHS based on the cost spent to generate 1 QALY (quality-adjusted life years). The NHS has an average cost of £15,000 to produce 1 QALY compared to the £2,565 it cost for Beat the Street to produce each QALY.
The technical report has found that the monetary value of the increase in life satisfaction after Beat the Street could account for £463 per adult participant. Considering the 67,933 adult participants during 2022, when scaled up, this could amount to £31 million in total social benefit. The report also states the benefit cost ratio (BCR) for delivering Beat the Street in 2022 could be up to 30.3, meaning Beat the Street generates at least £30 in social value for each £1 spent.
Dr William Bird MBE, Founder and CEO of Intelligent Health, said: “We are all aware of the pressures that the NHS has faced and continues to face, and we must enable individuals to make better choices to prevent the early onset of ill health. To do this we need to bring the essence of health back into our own hands. That’s why we want to connect people to the incredible resource that they’ve got themselves, their own networks and of course, what the natural environment has to offer. Through Beat the Street, this is exactly what we’ve endeavoured to do since its first iteration in its current format across Caversham back in 2013. To give people the opportunity and tools to take ownership of their wellbeing through building these connections, being active and importantly, having fun whilst doing it! This timely report provides further evidence on the programme’s impact on participant wellbeing, and we hope that policymakers continue take note on the vast benefits a physically active lifestyle can have in tackling health inequalities.”
It is well documented that sport and physical activity interventions can provide significant influence in social development. This includes increasing community cohesion, improving health and education outcomes, reducing crime rates, and encouraging economic benefits. Increasingly, investment in sport for social good is becoming a solution of choice, with evidence indicating that it can bring communities together in ways where other traditional interventions may not.
Hitesh Patel, Executive Director of the Sport for Development Coalition, a growing movement of more than 400 charities, organisations and networks based across the UK said: “Beat the Street is a fantastic example of how targeted sport and physical activity-based interventions are making a real impact, and producing greater social return on investment, for policy-makers and funders seeking to address key health and societal inequalities, especially in disadvantaged communities and amongst under-represented groups. The Coalition welcomes this important report which adds to the growing evidence base for how sport for development interventions can make a tangible contribution to building a healthier, more equitable and sustainable future for all.”
Participants from Beat the Street game areas said:
“Beat the Street helped me to recover from bereavement and gave me the opportunity to reset work life balance. Made me realise I could walk a distance – made me walk one more scanner and before I knew it, I was walking 10k per day! I also got to talk with locals…Amazing atmosphere!” Female, aged 50 – 59, Stockton on Tees
“We had some happy and funny times with my family walking around the streets and tapping our cards. We felt like a strong team working together.” Female, aged 40 – 49, Lambeth.
“I have many issues with other members of my family being seriously ill and I am a carer to several members of my family as well as looking in on an 85-year-old neighbour who has Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia on a regular basis…Beat the Street was a tremendous stress reliever for me – I was able to get out…Enjoying the challenge as well as the exercise I was getting… It was entertaining, exciting, rewarding, and enabled so many people to get out and about in a fun and fulfilling way.” Male, aged 70 – 79, Clacton.
Find out more about Beat the Street.
Read the full technical report.