Budget announcement provides initial support on road to recovery

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Budget ()

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has delivered the Budget announcement today, and it has included several support packages to help sport and recreation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement included support for summer sports, grassroots activity, facilities and self-employed workers.

Responding to the Budget, Alliance CEO Lisa Wainwright said: “It was pleasing to see that the sport, recreation and physical activity sector has been provided with additional support and financial assistance to ensure that we can continue building towards to the re-opening of our clubs and facilities.

“We are delighted that the Chancellor has listened to our call to continue Business Rates Relief and released additional restart grants, both of which will provide local community clubs with a financial boost as they prepare to welcome back participants.

“The extension of the furlough scheme to September, and the support for self-employed workers, will help many of the organisations, coaches and support staff in our sector at a time when many are still struggling to operate at full capacity and will have to adapt as we return to activity.

“We also welcome the announcement of a £300 million Sport Recovery Package, an extension of the winter funding that the Alliance campaigned for, to protect sports that continue to miss out from income due to lack of fan attendance and we hope this will bring much needed benefits to grassroots sport.

“We look forward to receiving further details about the Community Ownership Fund and how local groups can access this money to ensure that our beloved community sport and recreation clubs can survive the pandemic and be protected for the long-term.

“However, while there is much to take from this statement, we must be wary of the very challenging position that many clubs, organisations and facilities remain in.

“In this context it is disappointing to see the reduced 5% rate of VAT has been extended further for hospitality, tourism and culture sectors but still does not apply to sport and physical activity. This is something the sector has been calling for consistently.

“Similarly, while the £100m Leisure Recovery Fund launched late last year is welcome, further support for vital community leisure centres is still needed and we had hoped to see more from the Chancellor on this today.

“Overall, this budget will go some way to help the sector negotiate what remains of restrictions as it looks towards the reopening roadmap, however the end of the roadmap marks the start of the recovery.

“On top of the support announced today, it is essential for the physical and mental wellbeing of the nation that the government continues to prioritise its work with the sector to put sport and physical activity at the heart of the national recovery.

“We will be working with government and partners in the sector over the coming weeks to fully understand how this Budget will assist, and to look towards a longer-term plan for the future.

“We look forward to consulting with our members to make sure that their interests are protected and that as a sector, we are able to thrive and prosper long after lockdown ends.”