Sport, parks and leisure - New physical activity body – the NSPG – calls for radical reform to 'unlock the potential' of the sector...
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08 Jul 2022

New physical activity body – the NSPG – calls for radical reform to 'unlock the potential' of the sector
BY Tom Walker

The NSPG wants to see more funding for physical activity in schools, along other changes

The NSPG wants to see more funding for physical activity in schools, along other changes
photo: DGLimages/Shutterstock

A coalition of leading organisations across the physical activity sector has called for radical reform to support its growth and development.

The formation of the UK's new National Sector Partners' Group (NSPG) follows the publication of a landmark report, called Unlocking the potential, which proposes a strategic vision for how to fully harness the sector and improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the nation.

The report argues the sector can be integral to successfully delivering against key government priorities, including ‘levelling up’, driving economic growth, achieving net-zero and supporting the NHS. It also proposes a range of systemic interventions, including access to investment, tax and regulatory changes and wider policy reform which the coalition believes are key to maximising this role.

According to the NSPG – which has been formed by Active Partnerships, CIMSPA, Local Government Association, the Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA), Sport for Development Coalition, Youth Sport Trust and UK Active – its members help deliver £85bn per annum in social value through improved health and wellbeing, educational attainment, community cohesion, reduced crime and economic impact.

In a statement, NSPG said: “As leading voices in the sector, we are united in calling for fundamental change that will transform the role our sector can play in national renewal.

“We believe ours is a sector that needs to be empowered, supported and protected so that it can grow and realise its full societal potential.

“We also firmly believe that, by working more collaboratively with all arms of government and its agencies, sport, recreation and physical activity can make a far greater contribution to the key public policy challenges the Government now faces.

“In the context of the ongoing review of the Government’s sport strategy Sporting Future and the School Sport and Activity Action Plan, this is the right time to make a positive and constructive contribution to the debate.

“We hope Unlocking the potential can shape that debate within government and support further dialogue on the kinds of interventions we believe are necessary to unlock the potential of our sector."

The report proposes a number of key reforms to support the sector’s growth and development, including:

• Greater emphasis on the role of sport, recreation and physical activity in reducing the burden of preventable disease at national level through the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and locally through newly-formed Integrated Care Systems.

• Dedicated support to stabilise public sport and leisure to support physical activity levels, alongside long-term investment to develop modern, inclusive and sustainable community facilities and places and spaces for people to be active.

• Fundamental reforms to the tax treatment of physical activity, encompassing changes to VAT, business rates, corporation tax and wider taxation, as well as measures to reduce burdens and incentivise investment and growth.

• An ambitious national strategy for PE, school sport and physical activity, supported by long-term funding and clear accountability measures designed to drive up activity levels, health and wellbeing of children and young people across all age groups.

• Ring-fenced investment in sport-based programmes as part of key government plans to cut crime, improve health, raise educational attainment and enhance the skills and employability of young people.

• Greater access to investment through explicit inclusion of sport, recreation and physical activity in key levelling up funding streams.

• Improved understanding of the availability and accessibility of built facilities and the natural environment at local level to identify risks and opportunities and target investment effectively.

According to the NSPG, the physical activity sector supports more than half a million jobs and engages more than six million volunteers.

To read the full report, click here.



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