Sport and Recreation Alliance expresses concern about reduction of funding to give pupils a healthy start to life

Sugar tax funding cuts ()

This week the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP, announced changes to the funding arrangements for schools in the UK. 

Although the Sport and Recreation Alliance welcomes the confirmation that the PE and Sport Premium will be doubled there was bad news about significant reductions to the Healthy Pupils Capital Programme (HPCP) and the Alliance is seeking clarification from Ministers. This programme which was only itself announced in February 2017 and was heralded by the Government as “new funding to boost school facilities and healthy lifestyles” appears to have now been cut.

The Government has committed to an additional £1.3bn for the core school budget – which is the main source of grant funding for schools – over the next two years but has made reductions elsewhere in planned expenditure, including the HPCP, to fund it.

The HPCP was to be part-funded by revenues from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) or ‘sugar tax’ and Government had previously committed to making sure that the amount schools receive through the HPCP would not fall below £415million regardless of the funds generated by the sugar tax. But it appears that the decision has now been reversed and only a small proportion – around £100m – will be retained for HPCP investment.

Commenting on the announcement, Emma Boggis, Chief Executive at the Sport and Recreation Alliance said:

We are disappointed to see that the Department for Education has reallocated money earmarked for capital investment to support healthy living, including through the provision of PE and sport facilities, to the core schools budget. 

"When the Government announced the HPCP less than five months ago it was cited as a demonstration of cross government commitment to Sporting Future but this week's announcement calls into question how genuine that commitment is. While we recognise that the schools budget is under pressure, reducing investment in sport and physical activity in this way is a false economy. As a country we have a huge challenge around childhood obesity, more not less focus on enabling children to be healthy and physically active in schools is what we need right now and I have written to the Education Secretary to express our concerns."

Confirmation of future funding for the PE and Sport Premium is something that we called for in our manifesto launched at the start of the 2017 General Election campaign.

Emma Boggis, continued:

It is pleasing to see that Government has confirmed the doubling of the PE and Sport Premium for primary schools for the next two years following a period of uncertainty. However, there is still no clarity over the length of time this commitment will last and we would encourage a commitment for the lifetime of this Parliament to 2022.”