Tough start to the start of the year for sport policy
Posted: Sat, 28 Jan 2023 17:41
It has been a tough start to 2023 for the sports sector off the field of play. It has felt like policy makers and government are still struggling to work out what it wants for their investment into sport and physical activity. So there has been a mixed bag of headlines and announcements.
Since the start of the new year we have seen the sector left out of the government's Energy Bills Discount Scheme much to the dismay of much of the sector - not least operators and Swim England. The publication of the House of Commons Public Accounts Report led to headlines 'Little progress' in tackling barriers to participation' or A report issued by the UK Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has accused Sport England of losing track of how £1.05bn in grants have been spent since 2016 and only accounting for £450m.
Hot on the back of these headlines Matthew Syed wrote another stinging article for the Times on the failure of Sport England to deliver meaningful growth in participation.
The response to the Whyte Review from Sport England and UK Sport has been produced, once again putting the shameful side of sport under the spotlight again.
Even the Spirit of 2012 had its say about legacy in the launch of its own report with a series of recommendations which hinted at policy failure for the 2012 Games!
An finally in the last week, the RFU seems to have managed to annoy its player and club base with proposals to lower the tackle height and deal with the issue of concussion
On the positive side the Ministry of Justice is investing in over 200 community projects which aim to divert young people away from possible anti social behaviours and the Football Foundation was able to celebrate further work in 2023 thanks to continued funding from the Premier League, the FA and governments Football Foundation.
These all point to a confusing picture from government about what it sees as important and what it is trying to achieve. Until the publication of the new sports strategy by DCMS we are left in limbo about the governments approach. The political uncertainty and chaos of 2022 didn't help, so most sports administrators and managers are looking forward to a lot more clarity. At the same time the sector is looking ahead to the future and what a possible Labour government wants to do for and with sport and physical activity. We will publish thoughts over the year, but we start by asking. What more does sport need to do for its message to be heard and understood in all the corridors of power in Whitehall and Westminster. Despite all our best efforts the message and contribution sport can make to a wellbeing agenda is till not cutting through. We must learn the lessons and work harder to listen and respond.