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Shadow sports minister encourages local authority investment in physical activity

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Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has encouraged local authorities to continue to spend on sport and physical activity provision despite significant government cuts.

In an interview with Sports Management, the Labour MP for Tooting said that taking money out of physical activity was a “false economy” and that she would use her position to “ensure sport and physical activity is accessible to everyone”.

Since 2010, £42m (US$52.4m, €50.3m) has been cut from the sport and leisure budgets of English councils as part of the government's austerity cuts, but Allin-Khan suggested that an increasing amount of funding would be spent on health and social care if people were deprived opportunities to participate and get fit.

“More will need to be spent on social services for young children, as evidence shows that if we don’t invest in the early years then more money gets spent on social care later on,” she said.

“More money will be spent on older people in the NHS, and mental health is a classic example. The mental health budget is being cut and everyone is feeling the squeeze. I’ve seen first hand as a doctor just what physical activity can do for rates of depression. It can get people back in the workforce, increase their self-esteem and improve the local economy.”

As well as being a tool to improve people’s physical and mental health, Allin-Khan stressed that she wanted to see sport used increasingly to affect positive social change and “bridge the equality gap”.

Allin-Khan is a member and team doctor for Balham Boxing Club, which has developed initiatives to make the sport accessible for all people in the community.

She added: “The club has sessions for under-11s, youth groups and white collar boxing where anybody can come and train. Rather than advertise the boxing element, they talk about the benefits of training and keeping fit. You don’t even have to get in the ring.”

To read the full interview with Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, click here.

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Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has encouraged local authorities to continue to spend on sport and physical activity provision despite significant government cuts.
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Allin-Khan’s involvement with her local boxing club has shown her how sport can engage the community
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