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29 Jul 2021 | 13:13

The Government has been urged to maintain "a strong focus on the contribution that sport in our communities can make to wider social outcomes and positive change" as it seeks to secure the most cost-effective ways of rebuilding from the pandemic.

Andy Reed OBE, Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition, was speaking today in response to a report on community sport published by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The ‘Sport in Our Communities’ report calls on the Government to launch a nationwide campaign to get children more active in the wake of the pandemic, as well as highlighting the ‘precarious’ state of finances in community sport, and the ‘persistent inequalities’ experienced by under-represented groups such as women, disabled people and ethnically diverse communities – which Covid-19 has exacerbated.

STRENGTHENING

However Andy Reed OBE, himself a former MP and now Chair of the Coalition, believes the report could potentially have gone even further in identifying and developing thinking on how sport and physical activity groups and organisations could be supporting, and benefitting from major ‘non-sport’ Government funds.

Two specific examples are the £4.8billion ‘Levelling Up Fund’ which is aimed at strengthening communities and bolstering local economies, and the proposed £1.5billion Shared Prosperity Fund, which will build on the £220million  ‘Community Renewal Fund’  focused on growing local economies, and breathing new life into our communities.

DCMS report

Andy said: “We welcome the Committee’s report and recommendations, especially around enhancing participation for under-represented groups and targeted funding focused on addressing inequalities.

“Alongside these recommendations, we would urge Government to ensure a strong focus on the contribution that sport in our communities can make to wider social outcomes and positive change.

“This approach will maximise the contribution of community sport to the Government’s plans to level up and Build Back Better after Covid-19, build on the foundation set in the Government’s Sporting Future strategy and help deliver the ambition of Sport England’s Uniting the Movement strategy ‘to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity’.”

MAXIMISE

The Coalition is a growing group of more than 200 charities and organisations working to maximise the positive social impact of sport and physical activity. Read about the evidence submitted by the Coalition to the DCMS Committee’s inquiry.

Andy added: “The Coalition is a wide network of charities, community groups and voluntary organisations within – but also outside – the traditional community sport structures.

“Collectively it has a singular focus on delivering positive social outcomes using sport and physical activity, and is focused specifically on tackling inequalities and barriers to enjoying the benefits of sport in our communities.

DCMS 2

“Research has shown that ringfencing investment for these type of interventions, supporting the paid and volunteer workforce of these organisations and enabling facility access can enhance the ‘return on investment’ in community sport.

“Investing in organisations focused on delivering social change and tackling inequalities through sport has also been shown to have the potential to unlock investment from other sectors into community sport, which will be a critical need for the sector to recover and reinvent after Covid-19.”

Read the 'Sport in Our Communities' report.