March policy update

Policy type: 
Publish date: 
Fri, 30/03/2012

1. Big changes

1.1 New planning framework a policy win for sport and recreation

The Government has made welcome changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which replaces Planning Policy Guidance 17 (PPG17). Ministers listened to the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s calls for areas of the draft to be reworded, or else risk significantly weakening the protection of open spaces and recreational facilities including playing fields.

The Alliance’s view
The Alliance welcomes the changes, which prevent the loss of facilities unless it can be shown they are surplus to requirement or a suitable alternative is provided. It also means that local authorities can now plan for sport and activity based on an assessment of needs and according to specific facility shortages.

The NPPF comes into force immediately but local planning authorities will have 12 months to update their local plans to meet the new requirements. The changes mean that communities can prioritise locally, but in line with national policy. For the half of local authorities who do not have a local plan, the NPPF will become the default guidance.

Visit the Planning Portal to find your local planning authority.

1.2 How the Budget will impact sport and recreation in 2012

On 21 March the Chancellor made his annual budget statement with a number of announcements relevant to the sport and recreation sector, which include:

  • making limited amendments to Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) scheme legislation to ensure it operates as originally intended
  • moving to a tax regime that ensures operators pay gambling duties according to where their customers are based
  • revising the amount of endorsement income taxation to be paid by non-resident sports people
  • implementing tax exemptions for non-resident participants in the 2013 Champions League final and the 2014 Commonwealth Games
  • closing loopholes in the tax system including extending VAT to a number of products like sports drinks
  • increasing the maximum donation eligible under the Gift Aid small donations scheme from £10 to £20.

The Alliance’s view
The CASC amendments will be detailed in the Finance Bill being introduced to Parliament shortly, which is not expected to include key changes the Alliance has longed campaigned for such as the extension of Gift Aid on junior subscriptions. Nevertheless, we will continue to campaign and promote the value of CASCs to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The Alliance’s campaigning with other partners around gambling taxation has reaped rewards in this year’s budget, bringing the UK into line with other European states and ensuring that all operators are subject to Gambling Commission regulation - good news for the sport sector.

We also pushed for reforms to the way elite athletes are taxed when they visit the UK’s shores to compete, so the news relating to endorsement income taxation to be paid by non-resident sports people was welcomed. This will help ensure that major tournaments in the UK continue to attract the biggest names.

Read the full 2012 Budget on the HMRC’s website. For more information on sport and recreation aspects of the budget contact James MacDougall or Simon Butler.

1.3 Red tape in sport and recreation

Clubs and organisations held back by burdensome red tape who contributed to the Alliance’s Red Card to Red Tape review last year will be able to take a look at how things have changed and progressed in next month’s policy update.

The Alliance has also been working closely with the Cabinet Office on its own project to battle bureaucracy - the Red Tape Challenge where people can have their say on what government legislation should be scrapped, what should be saved and what should be simplified to create a better environment for sport and recreation.

To have your say, visit the Red Tape Challenge website. Sport and recreation will be in the spotlight from 29 March to 3 June.

2. Policy changes

2.1 New managed migration rules

The Home Office has announced changes to the managed migration rules affecting sports people coming to the UK under ‘Tier 2’ of the Points Based System.

The changes will mean that sports people coming into the UK under Tier 2 since April 2011 will be able to spend a maximum of six years in the UK, after which they will either need to qualify for indefinite leave (settlement) or leave the country. From April 2016, those applying for settlement will also need to have a minimum salary of £35,000 per year.

If a Tier 2 sports person leaves the UK, they will be required to have a one year ‘cooling off period’ before they can reapply for their visa, but will be able to use Tier 5 to return for up to 12 months during this time and then reapply.

The Home Office has assured the Alliance that the changes are not intended to have a negative effect on sport and recreation, but email James MacDougall or Joy Tottman if you have any concerns.

2.2 How hosepipe bans will affect sport and recreation

Due to an unusually dry 18 months, the south east of England and East Anglia are now in drought, with a hosepipe ban being introduced by water companies from 5 April.

The ban will mean that hosepipes cannot be used to water gardens which include 'areas of grass used for sport and recreation', resulting in direct implications for sports such as football, cricket, rugby, bowls, golf and lawn tennis.

Some water companies have introduced exemptions for grassed areas or artificial surfaces used in ‘connection with a national or international sports event’ and where cleaning is ‘necessary for health and safety reasons’. Many commercial operations and businesses will also be allowed to continue watering if integral to requirements.

For additional information on how the ban will operate in your area contact your local water provider, as exemptions will differ depending on the company. For detailed guidance on the hosepipe ban visit the Alliance’s website or contact David Foster.

2.3 Implementation of the Charities Act 2011

The implementation date for the Charities Act 2011 which consolidates the 1993 and most of the 2006 acts has been confirmed as 14 March. The new Act is simply intended to make the law easier to understand and there are no new regulations to be aware of.

Registered charities do not need to do anything differently except refer to the Charities Act 2011 in documents, reports, accounts or statements produced on or after 14 March 2012, even if they relate to an earlier financial period. Charities do not need to go back and change any documents already finalised before this date.

Read more about the Charities Act 2011 on the Charity Commission website or contact Joy Tottman to discuss the changes further.

3. Parliament

3.1 Secondary ticketing

Mike Weatherley MP called a Westminster Hall debate on secondary ticketing earlier this month, arguing that the re-sale of tickets by profiteers was blighting the creative and sporting industries.

He described how the secondary market harmed the ability of major event hosts to sell tickets lower than market value which in turn deprived lower-priced tickets being offered to younger fans - an important way for a club to build a fan base.

Read the full debate on the Parliament website.

4. Outdoor recreation

4.1 Forestry update

The Alliance held its first working group meeting with the Forestry Commission in March, where Archery GB, Triathlon England, the Scouts and the Ramblers gave their priorities as to how the project should improve opportunities for sport and recreation in English woodland.

The partnership element of the project will allow members to have a say on the development of operational policy within the Forestry Commission, and the Alliance is now gathering evidence from members to carry the project plan forward.

The Alliance’s view
The Working Group gives the Alliance opportunity to have a say on the strategic direction of the Forestry Commission, which should result in direct benefits for its members. Likewise the Forestry Commission will be able to use the Alliance’s members as a sounding board to work out how to best respond to specific developments, such as conservation issues.

To find out more about the project contact Martin Key.

4.2 Access Working Group

The Access Working Group met this month and proposed a number of actions in relation to upcoming access legislation change and will publish a work programme to prioritise actions for the year. These include:

  • Reviewing DEFRA’s environmental recommendations for the Red Tape Challenge which include changes to the Cycle Track Act, to allow greater flexibility for local authorities to create new routes for cyclists.
  • Reviewing DEFRA’s soon-to-be-published consultation on public rights - expected to cover the management of public path orders made under the Town and Country Planning Act.
  • Working with Parliamentarians to secure a debate in the Houses of Parliament around ‘The economic value of recreational access to the countryside’ which came about as a result of the Alliance’s recent access briefing hosted by Shadow DEFRA Minister Fiona O’Donnell MP.

To find out more about the project contact Martin Key.

4.3 National Water Safety conference

The Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents (RoSPA) is holding the National Water Safety conference in Birmingham on 26 April, bringing together representatives from beach, inland waters, sea, swimming pools and water sports. The conference will explore how water safety can best be managed during the recession, and will provide opportunities to learn from the planning of some of the large scale events taking place later this year.

For further information visit RoSPA’s website.

4.4 Welsh adventurous activities

The Welsh government has confirmed it will retain legislation requiring providers of certain adventure activities to hold a licence. The decision was taken without consultation and means that clubs and providers in Wales will need to hold a licence while similar organisations in England will not.

The UK Government has taken the decision to repeal statutory licensing and is currently considering how this is best achieved, whilst the Scottish government is conducting a public consultation.

The Alliance’s view
The Alliance strongly believes there should be a single solution for the whole of the UK and will work with the adventure activity sector, through its involvement with AAIAC, to recognise the independence of national governing bodies but also provide a solution for multi-activity providers that have no recognised governing body.

5. Europe

5.1 The Danish Presidency of the EU

The Danish Presidency of the European Union (EU), in collaboration with the International Sport and Culture Association, hosted a two-day conference in Copenhagen called SportVision 2012 that focused on sport for all, with particular attention on volunteering, financing and health.

The Alliance’s view
The conference served as an excellent forum for sharing best practice on issues ranging from the economic and social importance of sport through to encouraging mass participation and the innovative use of facilities.

The proposed EU sport funding sub-programme due to begin in 2014 was also referred to as a good opportunity to secure extra financial resources for European sporting projects in the future, and with this is mind, it is significant that the Alliance continues to lead the European Council’s expert working group on sustainable financing in sport to directly influence the European Commission’s agenda.

For further information contact David Foster.

5.2 New French legislation on ethics in sport

Last month a new law amending the Sport Act was adopted in France, focusing particularly on gambling and governance, which aims to uphold ethics in sport and make provisions for:

  • compulsory ethics codes for each sports body
  • greater powers for sports federations in terms of licensing
  • rules regarding home grown players and salary caps
  • rules about double ownership of clubs
  • tougher restrictions on ticket touting
  • the ability for sport federations to cap the fees of agents and lawyers
  • provisions forbidding any sport stakeholder to bet on the competition they take part in
  • improved access for sport federations to customer records held by bookmakers
  • creation of a specific criminal offence for cheating in sport/match fixing - with increased penalties when an offence is linked to betting.

The Alliance’s view
There is a range of interesting concepts introduced by this legislation, a number of which would be of benefit to sport if they were mirrored in the UK. Whilst the Minister for Sport has already agreed to look into aspects relating to ticket touting, the Alliance will also be encouraging him to examine others such as betting and match fixing.

6. Consultations

Live consultations affecting sport and recreation can now be found in the Alliance’s one-stop consultation tracker, and completed consultations can be found on the website.

7. Research

7.1 Research on the wider value of sport and recreation in society

The Alliance is making real progress on its review around the benefits that sport and recreation can bring to society, focusing on physical health, mental health, anti-social behaviour and crime, education and employment and social cohesion.

A literature review of the evidence will be completed in April, with digestible one page summaries provided on each of the topics.

At present, the Alliance’s evidence is mostly being sourced from academic papers and reports, so we are also looking to include specific examples of the work our members.

If you have case studies, stories, examples or evidence, please send them to Syann Cox.




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