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Prove it or lose it: Government sports strategy redraws funding guidelines

By Matthew Campelli    16 Dec 2015
Crouch said the strategy was about 'having a positive impact on people's lives'

Sports governing bodies will have to demonstrate projects that have a “meaningful, measurable impact” on improving people’s lives in order to receive funding as part of the government’s wide-ranging sports strategy.

Delivered by sports minister Tracey Crouch, the report out today (17 December) revealed that investment would be earmarked for initiatives which encourage physical activity among the inactive, as well as projects that help young people gain skills that aid employment and tackle social exclusion and mental health problems.

As part of the strategy, Sport England will see its remit changed substantially. The body will now be responsible for investing in sport for those aged five and over, as opposed to its previous obligation of improving participation among those aged 14+.

The governing body will also set up a fund in 2016 which will specifically measure and work to increase participation rates among physically inactive people. Demographic groups which generally have low participation rates – including women, disabled people, those from lower socioeconomic groups and the elderly – will be targeted with financial backing.

Sport England, alongside UK Sport and other Home Nations Sports Councils, will have to adhere to a sports governance code by September 2017. If bodies wish to continue to receive public funding they must sign up to the code. “We want to maintain Britain’s reputation as one of the leading nations in the world for putting on major sporting events while making sure we are the best in the world on good governance too,” said Crouch.

In terms of elite sport, the government has agreed a deal which will see the Premier League at least double its investment in grassroots football facilities and programmes over the coming three seasons, as a result of its increased broadcast income.

Earlier on this year, the Premier League signed a deal worth £8.2bn (US$12.3bn, €11.3bn) (factoring in overseas rights), for the next three years. Over the past three seasons it has contributed £12m (US$18m, €16.5m) per year to grassroots charity the Football Foundation.

Crouch has also pledged “increased exchequer funding” to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes through to the 2020 Games in Tokyo. The government has plans to improve the performance of elite sports teams by facilitating discussions between home nation football, cricket and rugby governing bodies, plus those involved in the success of the previous two Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In addition, ukactive chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has been appointed to lead an independent working group which will focus on alternative career plans for elite athletes to safeguard against negative effects of retirement, career-ending injuries or being released by clubs and governing bodies.

Olympic sports will also share their technical expertise with non-Olympic sports, to raise the standard across the board.

Crouch said that the new strategy would ensure sports continued to make “a significant contribution to the economy too”, adding that the economic contribution from sport is now £39bn a year.

To further strengthen in this area, the report says the government will "Work to enhance the contribution of sport to the economy, by establishing a Sports Business Council to develop a new business strategy that helps support growth, improve access to finance and develop skills in the Sport Sector."

To see the full Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation report, click here.

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