Alliance urges the incoming government to step up its support for sport and recreation

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Last week was a big week here at the Sport and Recreation Alliance. We released our General Election Manifesto and opted for a bold approach, calling for ‘radical change’ designed to put sport and recreation at the centre of government policy making.

In what is likely to be an election that does little to heal a divided nation, we are calling on the next government to use the power of sport to bring the country together and to make people healthier at the same time.

Unfortunately, our society is under pressure. We have an obesity and inactivity crisis which is affecting the poorest, the most. Our NHS is under strain and our communities are reaching breaking point more than ever with an epidemic of knife crime blighting children and young people.

While we certainly recognise that there has been some progress over the last few years with many of our members at the forefront of driving this change, we are clear that much more needs to be done.

So, our manifesto carries five asks in which we have tried to focus on the benefits of grassroots sport.

In particular, there is a keen focus on the community and making sure that everyone can access sport and recreation through an increase in the funding available to school sport through the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL).

With an expected drop off in the revenue from SDIL as people buy fewer sugary drinks, we are keen to make sure that the money available for school sport does not subsequently drop off.

In fact, we feel it should be extended to allow schools to open their facilities to the wider community for year-round access.

Additionally, we feel investment in other facilities is key too. At a Local Authority level, we have asked for more investment to help support the health of communities through the great work our members do.

Specifically, there needs to be a reversal of £700 Million of cuts to the public health grant.

These asks will be combined into a neat package which includes a nationwide audit of all facilities, including blue and green spaces, to reveal which areas would benefit the most from policies aimed at making improvements to this infrastructure.

This useful mapping task will help us make the case for targeted investment in communities that need it the most and the next government should commit to this as early as possible.

Unavoidably in this election, Brexit hangs heavy in the air and we have two asks in relating to our potential departure from the EU.

The first is an introduction of a betting levy to invest in grassroots sport and this should be supported with an increase in the amount sport and physical activity receives from the National Lottery Good Causes money. We are calling for this to be raised to 25% of the total spending.

With a tight election forecast, we really don’t know what form Brexit will take.

Whatever the outcome though, it is vitally important to secure the long-term sustainability of the sport and recreation sector after Brexit.

This extends to elite sport as well. Government must invest in both top-level athletes and continue to make bids for sporting events in order to continue to demonstrate the ‘soft power’ potential that elite sport can have in any post-Brexit United Kingdom.

We have designed these asks to showcase the power that sport can have, and this is demonstrated largely through the excellent work that our members do.

We are pleased that they support our manifesto. Nick Chamberlain from British Cycling (BC) said “Sport and physical activity are the cure for so many of society’s challenges, but without proper funding and strategic vision across government, we will keep falling short.

“The Alliance manifesto consolidates National Governing Body concerns and makes a clear case for sustained funding for the sector.”

Ultimately, this manifesto is written to benefit our members.

That is why there will be a chance for you to test the politicians on their commitment to these ideas on 4 December when the Sport and Recreation Alliance host an election hustings with the three main parties at the Oval.

Until then, as this unpredictable election rolls on, we hope that whoever forms a government will commit to unleashing the power of sport and emboldening all communities to benefit so that we can create a truly active nation.  

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