A missed opportunity for Government to realise its own ambitions: Sport, recreation and physical activity sector responds to Spring Budget

NSPG statement on Budget 2024 ()

The National Sector Partners Group (NSPG) has issued the following response to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget 2024.

The Chancellor said there can be no “solid growth without solid finances”, but we know there can be no growth without improved health too. The announcements yesterday will do little to move the dial on physical activity levels nor unlock the potential of our sector to contribute to wider Government policy priorities.

Yesterday’s Budget was a missed opportunity to improve the health and productivity of the nation by supporting more people to be active. Given the Budget’s focus on increasing productivity, workforce and NHS efficiency, further measures designed to support the sport, recreation and physical activity sector to achieve these priorities - including targeted tax and regulatory reforms and wider investment - should have been much more prominent in this announcement.

More broadly the Government’s own Get Active strategy sets targets to get 2.5 million more adults and one million more children active by 2030. And there remain very serious financial pressures on local government with cuts already being made to non-statutory services such as sport and leisure in many areas. These targets are therefore at serious risk given the lack of measures in the Budget to help achieve them.

The NSPG has demonstrated the value of increased levels of physical activity in direct savings for the NHS, increased productivity and wellbeing benefits. However, realising these benefits requires a substantive policy change and we would therefore welcome the opportunity to work with Government to identify further opportunities to reform.

In this General Election year, we will challenge our political leaders to commit to making the UK the most active nation in Europe – and in doing so generate £1bn healthcare savings and a GDP uplift of £3.6bn a year. Now is the time to take the necessary steps to make that happen, in the long-term interests of the country.

CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, Lisa Wainwright MBE said:

"While some of the Chancellor’s measures announced today are welcome, taken as a whole they fall short of what is needed for our sector to deliver the scale and pace of change envisaged to tackle this nation’s inactivity and poor health and wellbeing.

“The sport, recreation and physical activity sector makes a significant contribution to our economy and social fabric – supporting health, happiness and prosperity. It keeps millions of people of all backgrounds and ages active across the country through schools, clubs and local facilities. And it helps sustain employment and economic growth and brings communities together.

"Against this background it is essential that Government uses all available levers to protect and grow sport and recreation and make it easier for more people to participate in and reap the benefits of being physically active.

“We remain committed to working with the Government and all political parties as we approach the General Election to raise our collective ambition on activity levels and maximise the role our sector can play in achieving key policy priorities.”