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A performance review of sport in Scotland by Audit Scotland has revealed that fewer people are participating in physical activity, even though “a significant amount of national funding” has been invested in the national sport strategy.

Although the national strategy focused on increasing participation and elite athlete performance, the number of adults who took part in sport once a week fell from 49 per cent in 2001 to 42 per cent in 2006.

In defence of the findings, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The expenditure is focused on young people – largely through Active Schools – and athlete performance.” However, according to the report, the number of children participating in sport is below target. Elite athlete performance has, however, exceeded the national target, with 283 Scots winning international medals.

Robert Black, auditor general for Scotland, said: “Over half a billion pounds of public money is spent each year on sport, but more needs to be done to link the national strategy to sports investment across Scotland. Many sports facilities still need improvement to ensure that they are attractive.” In 2006 sportscotland estimated an additional £110m a year would be needed for the next 25 years to bring all sports facilities up to an acceptable standard.

Sports Minister, Stewart Maxwell, said “It’s incumbent on national and local Government, to offer more choices and more chances for people to take part in sport across Scotland underpinned by facilities that are fit for purpose.

“I’m not underestimating the scale of the challenge, but the Scottish Government has overseen a radical restructuring of sportscotland, and is delivering record levels of investment,” he said.

On average, £558m of public money is spent on sport in Scotland each year, of which the councils contribute 90 per cent and sportscotland and Lottery funding, 10 per cent.

Scottish councils also spent £385m on building and improving facilities such as swimming pools and outdoor pitches between 2002 and 2007 in support of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The report warned there was no strategy for the annual £110m needed to upgrade facilities. However, Maxwell said steps are being taken to improve participation and deliver improved facilities. He added that 16 councils now have sports strategies in place and that since 2007 there has been a revised, ‘clearly defined’ national sports strategy called Reaching Higher.

“The recent announcement of the first Commonwealth Games legacy funding – £5m to Aberdeen City Council for a 50m swimming pool and £1m to help refurbish the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, demonstrates our commitment to supporting councils in their sporting ambitions,” said Maxwell.

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A performance review of sport in Scotland by Audit Scotland has revealed that fewer people are participating in physical activity, even though “a significant amount of national funding” has been invested in the national sport strategy.
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