Community Leisure UK ezine
February 2020
Government confirms budget date – ukactive calls for an end to 'contradiction in value'

07 Jan 2020

The chancellor, Sajid Javid, has revealed that the government will present its budget on 11 March.

Javid has hinted that the budget will include measures to ignite a 'decade of renewal' for Britain – and analysts predict that he will announce a string of major investment projects.

Among these could be a shake-up of the way the Treasury allocates investment in an attempt to even up spending between the regions.

Encouragingly for the leisure industry, tax and spending measures will focus on health and the cost of living, while Javid’s investment plans could see billions of pounds being earmarked for capital projects.

“With this budget we will unleash Britain’s potential – uniting our great country, opening a new chapter for our economy and ushering in a decade of renewal," Javid said.

Ukactive CEO Huw Edwards said the government should use the budget to "back forcibly" the ambitions of the NHS to collaborate and partner with the physical activity sector.

Edwards said there remains an inconsistent approach to the sector within Whitehall.

He highlighted two recent news items which, he said, were perfect examples of a "contradiction in value" regarding the role of the fitness and leisure sector – an issue which the government should look to end.

"The first, in The Times, reported that its own analysis of council accounts showed spending on council-run sports facilities had fallen by two thirds over the past decade," Edwards said.

"It revealed that local authorities spent £244m on leisure centres, swimming pools, running tracks and other sports sites in 2018, down from £565m in 2009 as they have struggled to cope with central government funding cuts.

"The second, reported by all the major national broadcasters, reported NHS plans for newly diagnosed cancer patients to be offered NHS gym sessions before they start treatment, in the hope of boosting the speed of their recovery.

"The plan is that thousands will be invited to sign up for a ‘prehab’ fitness programme following their diagnosis.

"The NHS rightly wants to make our members – both public and private – integral to its operational future, supporting people with long-term conditions to manage their health and wellbeing as best they can.

"But part of this provision – funded by councils across the country – has felt the bite of national austerity acutely, and authorities are shackled to the reality that sport and leisure has too often been top of the cuts list given its non-statutory status. An almost impossible situation for authorities to find a solution to.

"This contradiction in value, captured in these two stories, must be addressed urgently by our new Government."

Edwards added that ukactive will present the government with its own proposals of measures to be included in the budget.

"ukactive’s budget submission will provide a comprehensive assessment of the business needs for our sector, documenting the regulatory and financial support required to improve the operating landscape," Edwards said.

"This will also include the need to address the current provision of sport and leisure facilities across the country, supporting the development of wellbeing/community hubs that see vital services integrated and co-located to the benefit of local communities."


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