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30 Sep 2021 | 8:08
  • Ahead of the Government's Spending Review, the Sport for Development Coalition calls on the Chancellor to capitalise on sport’s potential as a ‘team player’ in levelling up communities, tackling deprivation and building back better from Covid-19. 
  • Targeted interventions across the Coalition’s UK-wide network produce cost savings and multiple returns on investment, from sustaining mental health and wellbeing and increasing employability and skills, to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. 
  • Coalition makes recommendations aimed at maximising the contribution of sport-based interventions in supporting individuals and communities with the greatest need, increasing social mobility and reducing the burden on the public purse. 

The Sport for Development Coalition has called on the Chancellor to capitalise on sport’s potential as a ‘team player’ in levelling up deprived communities and building back better from the Covid-19 pandemic as the Government undertakes its Spending Review 2021. 

The Spending Review culminates with Rishi Sunak delivering his three-year spending plan on October 27, and the Sport for Development Coalition has made four specific recommendations centred on ring-fencing funding for sport-based interventions within current commitments aimed at levelling up, improving health and wellbeing, supporting jobs and reducing crime. The Coalition - a UK-wide network of more than 200 charities, sports bodies, community and voluntary organisations over-arching thousands of projects and programmes intentionally using sport and physical activity to generate positive social outcomes - argues these policy decisions have the potential to produce substantial cost savings and multiple returns on investment across priority policy areas for Government. 

CSR coverIt calls for ‘sport and physical activity social impact and regeneration projects’ to become dedicated sub-themes for investment in future rounds of Levelling Up and UK Shared Prosperity Funds, and proposes ring-fencing investment for strategically-designed sport and physical activity-based interventions as part of funding committed through the Plan for Health and Social Care, Plan for Jobs, and Beating Crime Plan. It backs Sport England’s strategic vision for physical activity to be a catalyst in transforming lives and communities, and calls from other national sector partners for long-term funding for the PE and school sport premium, and the holiday activities and food programme; bridging the funding gap for public leisure facilities, and opening school-based sports facilities, with a focus on delivering for those facing the greatest inequality of opportunity. 

Ollie Dudfield, Executive Director of the Coalition, said: This Spending Review presents a unique opportunity for the Government to further elevate sport to be an important ‘team player’ in levelling up and building back better. In this difficult fiscal climate, where we urgently need innovative and cost-effective solutions to reduce the burden on health care and other public services, it’s essential we capitalise on the impact sport for development can make across priority areas identified by the Government for Spending Review 21.” 

Investment in targeted sport and physical activity-based interventions, and sport for development approaches in particular, can disproportionately deliver outcomes in areas of high deprivation and for communities most in need of levelling up. An analysis of almost 35,000 beneficiaries across leading sport for development interventions showed that 64% of participants were from the 30% most deprived areas of the country.  

The cost savings delivered through targeted sport-based interventions are clear, and include: 

  • Government’s Plan for Health and Social Care emphasises prevention is central to a sustainable NHS and levelling up. Prior to Covid-19, economic and social costs of poor mental health in England exceeded £100billion per year. If 500,000 people were more regularly active, additional value of £130.5m of improved physical and mental health would be delivered along with £636.8m through improved mental wellbeing.
  • The Beating Crime Plan identifies the importance of community partners playing their part in driving down crime and creating safer communities, thus reducing the £59bn economic and social cost of crime in England and Wales. Many sport-based early intervention initiatives consistently report over 70% of participants reduce offending or anti-social behaviour. Re-offending rates in sport-based resettlement schemes for 18-21s are consistently lower than national average of 26%. 
  • The Plan for Jobs aims to help people get back into work and develop the skills they need to thrive, but by July 2021 there were 243,00 fewer young people in employment compared to March 2020, with 12.9% of 16-24s unemployed. Analysis of seven sport-based youth employability interventions showed 59% of 8500-plus participants progressed into education, training or employment. 

Access the Coalition's full representation and policy brief.

For further information, contact [email protected]. For media enquiries and interview opportunities, contact [email protected] or 07736 162839.