Where will the next cuts fall - on sport or red tape?

Last year, the Sport and Recreation Alliance was asked by the Department for Culture, Media and...

Last year, the Sport and Recreation Alliance was asked by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to conduct an audit of all the red tape and bureaucracy affecting the sector. The result was Red Card to Red Tape, a 200-page analysis of everything from music licensing to health and safety. It was presented to the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, at an event in parliament last month. Here our head of policy, James MacDougall, reports on what early successes the report has had. 
When it was launched in March, the Alliance’s Red Card to Red Tape provided a host of recommendations and actions which could help sports clubs.However, as budgets continue to be cut and fears rise for community sports facilities, what hope is there for local clubs that the recommendations are being acted on? 
The DCMS is painstakingly going through the proposals in the report – after all, they did commission it. However, progress is already being made on several fronts. The Alliance is restructuring its support system for Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) and revamping the cascinfo website.  Meanwhile, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has agreed to promote CASCs locally in its newsletters to local authorities. Hugh Robertson will be taking the platform in the summer at an event organised by the Alliance  to launch our new CASC support structure, celebrate the 6000th CASC and highlight the £100m which the scheme has saved for community sport. It will also allow the Minister to tell us what progress has been made towards the CASC recommendations in the report. 
Taxation and charitable donations are of vital importance for sports clubs too. The Alliance sits on the Charity Tax Forum and has been invited to be part of the small donations working group on the review of Gift Aid announced in the Budget. HMRC too is reviewing the Red Tape report and is meeting with the Alliance very soon. 
The Alliance has also been hard at work persuading others to act on the recommendations in the report. So far we have discussed outdoor pursuits with the Health and Safety Executive, talked to the Home Office about alcohol licensing, reviewed vetting and barring and child performance legislation with the Department for Education (DfE), continued to negotiate with PPL and PRS on music licensing and are due to sit down with the Secretary of State for Policing on policing sports events. There is more to do, of course, as we lobby the Department for the Environment (DEFRA) for help on water recreation, DfE for access to school facilities and DCLG for local planning - to name but a few! 
While most of the work which has come from Red Card has involved the Alliance proactively approaching departments, the Information Commissioner's Office got the ball rolling for data protection itself  They contacted the Alliance after reading the report and have requested a meeting to see how they could remedy data protection concerns for clubs. 
Tremendous Parliamentary support for the report has been received, with over 30 Parliamentary Questions keeping the politicians on their toes. Indeed, Jim Cunningham MP’s question to DCLG helped prompt their promotion of CASC, while the Alliance has done a lot of work with John Woodcock MP on his Private Members Bill looking at the protection of bowling greens. A review of road racing for motor sport, as recommended by the report, was also announced in the Commons and the Alliance is engaging with the Department for Transport to ensure the promise comes to fruition. 
Finally, to make sure the report signifies the start, rather than the end of looking into red tape in sport, the Cabinet Office has agreed to add a specific section on sport and recreation to its red tape challenge. The sport section will go live later in the year and the work behind the scenes on Red Card to Red Tape will keep going.