NAO Report confirms the drift of Policy on participation legacy
Posted: Fri, 08 Jul 2022 10:18
The national Audit Office report into the the participation element of the London 2012 Legacy has confirmed that the original ambitions have not been met.
Of course the report does note that some progress was being made on the original target for increasing participation but this had 'waned' by 2016!
We have long argued at the STT that the focus on the Legacy has always been at best 'mixed'. Indeed from a NAO report we are surprised more has not been made of the cost of the overall Games in relation to the legacy plans and a cost benefit analysis of whether this money might have been better spent in other ways to drive up inspiration. It is this level of critical thinking that is required before we start thinking of future bids for such events. There may be other benefits, but selling our bids to the public on the basis of leaving a legacy needs constant challenge based on he increasing evidence!
We gave evidence to the NAO in the early stages and we are pleased to see that they recognised the complexity of delivering participation targets for sport and physical activity. As we pointed out the relatively small amount of lottery and Exchequer funding available to Sport England is not enough to implement social change at population level without the full cooperation of their cross departmental plans and strategies. For example we estimate that £600m a year has been lost to local authority leisure spend over the same period and this cannot be replaced by the modest lottery increases in spending. The loss of the School Sport partnerships and funding was another major blow.
We do support where DCMS and Sport England have moved their emphasis since 2016 though. Just marginally growing numbers of people already active is not the best use of resources. We have long argued for the principle of proportionate Universalism and we are pleased to see this language now used regularly. We want to see more of this being rolled out in practical policy and eventually financial and resource allocation, as it will mean tough choices are ahead.
So this NAO report is helpful at providing further evidence of a need to further shift policy to tackle inequalities. We might even say future policy needs to be about Levelling Up rather than supporting the existing inequalities by doing more of the same!