Government funding for sport to be maintained despite spending review fears, although further cuts to local authority budgets will impact on facilities and costs at grassroots level
Despite £20bn in departmental cuts across government - along with £12bn of cuts to the welfare budget - the funding that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) receives from the Exchequer for provision of sport was maintained.
Sport England, who distribute DCMS funding to sport's governing bodies, will have a similar budget for their next funding cycle, from 2017-21, as they had for the current 2013-17 cycle - a welcome surprise, given that they were reported to be expecting cuts of around 30%.
But, whilst the Football Association should not face funding cuts, grassroots football will continue to feel the pinch as result of 24% reductions to local authority grants, which will increase pressure on non-statutory spending on sport and leisure, putting more yet pressure on public sports facilities.
Despite these concerns and the fact that DCMS’s administrative budget will fall by 20%, in the light of the cuts elsewhere and the 29% increase in funding for UK Sport - the agency responsible for Britain's elite Olympic and Paralympic athletes - the overall response from the sports sector to the spending review has been a positive one.
The news was welcomed by the Sport & Recreation Alliance (SRA), whose #GetYourKitOn campaign in the build-up to the spending review reached 15 million Twitter timelines and resulted in nearly 1,500 direct emails being sent to the Treasury asking for grassroots funding to be protected.
Emma Boggis, chief executive of the SRA, who expected to see cuts of 25-40%, said: "After campaiging hard with our members to persuade the government of the vital importance of sport and recreation, we’re delighted that Government has recognised this with sustained investment in sport and recreation at all levels from the podium to the grassroots."
Writing about the announcement on the SRA website, head of policy James Allen said: "The point we have been making through the #GetYourKitOn campaign and for much longer than that is that sport, recreation and physical activity should have a more prominent role in government policy.
"Getting the population more active is not a ‘nice to have’ and we have made the argument that the long term investment in our ‘hard’ infrastructure should be matched with equal attention and investment in our most important infrastructure asset of all – our population."
Sports minister Tracey Crouch also welcomed the announcement, saying: "This settlement recognises the wider value of sport in society and how it plays an important role in boosting the economy.
"The increase in funding will support our elite athletes in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, grow the grassroots to get more people involved in sport and promote clean sport in the UK and beyond."