Sport, parks and leisure - £195m package announced to help physical activity sector through coronavirus outbreak...
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31 Mar 2020

£195m package announced to help physical activity sector through coronavirus outbreak
BY Tom Walker

The shutting down of all grassroots sports in the UK has put organisations under pressure – and resulted in people finding new ways of staying active

The shutting down of all grassroots sports in the UK has put organisations under pressure – and resulted in people finding new ways of staying active
photo: Shutterstock

A total of £195m of National Lottery funding has been made available to help the sport and physical activity sectors through the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

Organised and distributed by Sport England, the funding package will be divided into four main strands.

A £20m Community Emergency Fund will be opened immediately for clubs and community organisations, from which grants of between £300 and £10,000 will be made available.

An additional £55m will be made available to support the sector during the ongoing period of restrictions. Grants from the pot will be used to fund "new and innovative ways to keep people active" and, when the period of restrictions is over, to help organisations get back to business and adjust to a different environment.

Up to £115m worth of current funding will also be rolled into 2021-22, to give long term certainty to more than 100 organisations that Sport England has identified as "playing a vital" role in the delivery of sport and physical activity in England.

Separately, a £5m pot will be opened to organisations which already receive Sport England funding, allowing the organisations to bid for grants to tackle specific financial difficulties.

As well as the brand new funding, Sport England will also consider requests to release up to 50 per cent of the coming year’s (2020-21) funding to its partners, to help clubs and organisations tackle immediate cashflow concerns.

The package is part of Sport England's strategy to offer "major flexibilities" in the way it distributes funding during the outbreak.

"This multi-million-pound package of public funding will not only help local sports clubs facing financial concerns but also encourage people to stay fit at home," said Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for DCMS.

"When it is safe to do so, we want our brilliant community sport organisations to bounce back and we will work alongside Sport England and others to make that happen.”

Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said he hoped the package would help the sector get through the “extremely challenging times”.

“Sporting events are being cancelled, gyms and leisure centres are closed, clubs and community groups are not operating, and children and young people are all at home," Hollingsworth said.

“This is impacting the sector financially in a significant way, although it is heartening to see huge amounts of innovation and agility, with many operators getting classes online in a matter of days to enable home workouts, for example.

“As the body responsible for the growth of sport and physical activity at a grassroots level, we have an important role to play both in ensuring that we support those with short term cashflow concerns and immediate loss of income, as well as those facing medium and long term survival challenges and financial difficulties.

“We want the sector not just to come through this crisis, but to be in a position to thrive again in the future – and this package will ease the pressure on a huge number of the organisations who are central to that.”



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