‘Growth depends on health’: Sport, recreation and physical activity sector responds to Autumn Statement 2023

Houses of Parliament NSPG autumn statement ()

The National Sector Partners Group (NSPG) cautiously welcomes the Chancellor’s announcements at yesterday’s Autumn Statement, which seek to prioritise the country’s economic growth.

The Chancellor wants his Autumn Statement to be the catalyst for driving economic growth and productivity in the UK, and fundamental to this ambition is improving our national health, especially for people of working age.

While there remains an absence from the Government of a comprehensive public health strategy covering all ages and backgrounds to address our nation’s poor health, the Autumn Statement contains several announcements that could support the growth and development of parts of our sector, particularly the Back to Work Plan, Levelling Up funding, and reducing taxes for the self-employed.

Improving economic growth depends on increasing the nation’s productivity and to do that we need to prioritise a healthier society. The number of people unemployed due to a health condition is 2.6 million, up by half a million (almost 25 per cent) since the pandemic.

The role of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector in powering economic growth was recognised in the Government’s ‘Get Active’ strategy, which committed to working closely with the sector to explore new ways to boost activity levels. 

It is time to back the sector fully to deliver on the Government’s ambitions for physical activity, and to truly make this an Autumn Statement for growth. 

Lisa Wainwright MBE, CEO Sport and Recreation Alliance said:

“We welcome the Government’s focus on economic growth outlined in yesterday's Autumn Statement, and a number of the measures which have the potential to support parts of the sector.

"However, if this is truly to be a plan for growth, much more can and should be done to maximise the role sport, recreation and physical activity can play in supporting the growth plan more broadly. When it comes to physical activity levels, the UK is trailing behind European nations, and as a result is losing out on £billions. Investing more fully in grassroots sport and recreation is a key part of the solution.

"Driving and sustaining economic growth is reliant on having a healthy and more resilient workforce and on supporting thriving communities that people feel proud to be part of and choose to invest in. The sport and recreation sector – through our members - contributes heavily to this, by getting millions of people of all backgrounds and ages active and connected across local communities, clubs and organisations.

"By unlocking the full potential of the sector, Government can not only deliver a healthier and happier nation, but a more productive and prosperous nation one too.

"It is essential that Government uses all available levers to protect community sport and recreation and make it easier for more people to participate in and reap the benefits of being physically active. We must unlock the full potential of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector if we are to unlock the full potential of the country.

"The sector is calling for the Government and policymakers to realise our ambition for the UK to be the most active nation in Europe, and join us in delivering on that goal."