Leaders from more than one hundred sport and physical activity bodies across Britain have sent a letter to UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson urging him to ringfence funding for the recovery of the sports and activity sector or risk fuelling physical inactivity and related illnesses for a generation.
The letter highlights the contribution of the sports and physical activity sector to society, fuelled by a combined workforce of more than 600,000 people.
The coalition has requested an urgent support package from the Government, as has been provided to arts and restaurant sectors, that will enable the sport and activity sector to continue to provide programmes and facilities that address the health inequalities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and support the NHS by improving health outcomes.
Similar packages have been made available in Ireland, New Zealand and elsewhere with an initial Sports Recovery package worth €70 million made available for Irish sport over the summer.
The letter focuses on highlighting the importance of support programmes and facilities that address the health inequalities highlighted by COVID-19, particularly inactivity among women, lower socio-economic groups, BAME communities and people with disabilities.
A report published by Sport England and Sheffield Hallam University this month showed that every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity generates nearly £4 for the English economy, providing an annual contribution of more than £85bn a year, with a social value of more than £72bn a year, measured by physical and mental health and wellbeing, individual and community development.
“Our sector is united in its call to the Prime Minister to back grassroots sport and physical activity so that our clubs, gyms and leisure facilities can throw their full weight behind fighting this pandemic,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active.
“This is a health crisis and our sector can play a vital role in supporting our NHS by restoring the nation’s physical and mental resilience in the face of this terrible virus.”
“We call on the Government to deliver the urgent fiscal, taxation and regulatory support required to save sports and activity providers across the UK from disappearing from our communities at the time they are needed most.”
“The strength of this coalition from the sports, recreation and activity sector cannot be ignored in its public call to the Prime Minister,” added Lisa Wainwright, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put an incredible strain on our sector, which was forced to close for a prolonged period.”
“It is imperative that our sector gets the support it requires from the Government to get back to business, in order to ease the pressures on the NHS and play a central role in our nation’s recovery from COVID-19.”
The Federation of Irish Sport will publish its pre-budget submission to Government here later this week and we will carry news and analysis of the submission here on Sport for Business.