Autumn Statement 2023 - key announcements and what they could mean for grassroots sport and recreation

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The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday 22 November was one of the final major fiscal events before a likely general election next year.

The Chancellor’s speech focussed on an ambition to drive economic growth and productivity across the country, and included some measures which have the potential to support sport and recreation.

However, as we outlined in our initial response, there was a failure to acknowledge the extent to which the sector can drive growth through fostering healthy, resilient and thriving communities.

In this article, our Policy Manager, Max Nicholls, takes an in-depth look at some of the measures announced (as well as those that weren’t), and reflects on the implications for the sport and recreation sector.

Business rates

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief, first introduced during the pandemic, has been extended for another year until March 2025. Eligible properties will receive a 75% relief on their business rates bill, up to a cap of £110,000 per business. This relief applies on top of any mandatory relief a premises receives, such as Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) or charitable relief. This relief will benefit grassroots clubs and facilities as well as NGBs who own and operate larger facilities such as stadia.

In addition, the small business multiplier has been frozen for 2024-25.

Plant and machinery investment

It has been confirmed that full expensing of investment into plant and machinery will be made permanent. This means that organisations will receive 25p off their tax bill for every £1 they invest. This may benefit sport and recreation organisations which are fully subject to corporation tax, including some NGBs.

Energy-Saving Materials VAT Relief

The government intends to expand the VAT relief available on the installation of energy saving materials to additional technologies, such as water-source heat pumps, and bring into scope of the relief those buildings used solely for a relevant charitable purpose. These reforms will be implemented in February 2024 and further details are due to be published shortly.

National Insurance Contributions

For those working in the sector who are self-employed, including many coaches and instructors, the weekly Class 2 National Insurance contribution is to be abolished and the earnings-related Class 4 contribution rate is to be cut from 9% to 8% from 6 April 2024.

Employee National Insurance is due to be cut from 12% to 10% from 6 January 2024.

And what wasn’t included…

CASCs - We have repeatedly suggested the government review the monetary thresholds within the CASC scheme. The current levels were set in 2015 and have since been eroded by inflation, particularly over the past 12 months. We have also called for CASCs and charities to be able to claim Gift Aid on junior subscriptions to help financially support grassroots clubs.

What Labour said…’A healthy nation is critical to a health economy’

Responding the Autumn Statement, the Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves MP, unsurprisingly focussed on – and challenged - the government’s record on driving economic growth over the past thirteen years.

Within that, the Shadow Chancellor acknowledged the importance of a healthy nation in achieving growth by stating the number of people out of the workforce due to long term health issues, costing the taxpayer £15.7 billion per year.

However, this was followed by a commitment for further investment to cut NHS waiting lists. Across all political parties there needs to be a greater focus on preventative health measures rather than simply addressing the outcomes of poor health and wellbeing.


As with the recent King’s Speech, the Autumn Statement was delivered with the intention of shoring up support ahead of a general election, and there was little focus on  the longer term strategies for delivering the healthy and resilient workforce required for driving and sustaining economic growth.

Recent research by the Alliance highlighted the level of physical activity in the UK is significantly below the majority of our nearest European neighbours. This has considerable consequences for lost economic output and increased pressure on health services.

Fully unlocking the potential of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector will support the government to deliver on its ambitions to achieve a more active, productive and prosperous nation.