Community Sports: Impact on Young People - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 5:12 pm ar 16 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) 5:12, 16 Mai 2024

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wood of Anfield, for securing this excellent debate and the brilliant way in which he kicked it off.

I congratulate and welcome the two noble Lords who made their maiden speeches; we were delighted to hear from them both. The noble Lord, Lord Hannett of Everton, already has the measure of the less partisan debates that we have in your Lordships’ House, with his carefully judged and diplomatic comments on the fraught politics of Liverpool derbies. He spoke proudly and powerfully about the community work undertaken by Everton Football Club. The noble Lord, Lord Shamash, gave us some red-blue clashes, but only in connection with the football clubs of Manchester. He also gave us a rare example of a maiden speech from a life Peer that was able to refer to his noble kinsmen and to some 19th-century lineage. We enjoyed both speeches and look forward to hearing from both noble Lords in the future.

Millions of people across the country play, watch and enjoy sport every day. As noble Lords mentioned, it is central to our national identity and to the identities of communities across the country. The benefits of participating in sport and physical activity are well known: an active life is a happier, healthier and more prosperous life. Being active promotes individual well-being and improves both our physical and mental health. It was good to hear both mentioned in the contributions today.

Being active reduces loneliness, fosters social cohesion and strengthens our communities. A more physically active nation can help to ease the pressure on front-line services such as our National Health Service, and research commissioned by Sport England shows that, for every £1 invested in community sport and physical activity, there is a return of almost £4 in wider social and economic value. I was glad that the Motion that the noble Lord brought before us focused on both the social and economic contribution that sport makes to society.

That is why His Majesty’s Government are committed to ensuring that everyone, no matter their age, background or ability, is able to play sport and be active. A robust and high-performing sport sector is also immensely valuable to our economy, contributing almost £49 billion a year in gross value added and providing over half a million jobs.

The government sport strategy Get Active, published last summer, sets out our ambition to build a more active nation and our vision to ensure that the sector can thrive in the years ahead. It commits us to helping 2.5 million more adults and 1 million more children meet the Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines by 2030. In addition to this national ambition, we have also committed to specific goals aimed at groups of people identified as among the least active. Get Active also sets out our desire to ensure that our country has a sport and physical activity sector which is efficient, resilient, financially robust and environmentally sustainable and which effectively protects and supports everyone who wants to play sport.

While my department holds the remit for sport, it is the responsibility of many departments and organisations across government and beyond to support that shared ambition to shift the dial on physical activity. That is why we have set up the National Physical Activity Taskforce, to bring together government departments, the sport sector and independent experts, to deliver co-ordinated and innovative policies that will encourage people to be more active. Regular physical activity can help prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression, vitally easing the pressure on our health services. Physical inactivity is associated with one in six deaths in the UK and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually, including about £1 billion to the NHS alone. Increasing physical activity can therefore deliver cost savings for the health and care system as well as the obvious benefits to the lives of individual people.

In England, one in three children leaving primary school is overweight or obese, with one in five living with obesity. In total, obesity costs the National Health Service around £6.5 billion a year. With a direct link between a lack of physical activity and obesity, there is a clear benefit to encouraging physical activity in our children, particularly, as noble Lords mentioned, if these habits are maintained into adulthood. Research suggests that active adolescents who maintain this good habit into adulthood have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and better mental health.

We provide the majority of support for grass-roots sport through our arm’s-length body, Sport England, which receives £323 million in funding from the Exchequer and the National Lottery each year. Sport England’s work is focused on tackling disparities in participation and increasing opportunities for those in greatest need. One of Sport England’s partners is the Active Partnerships network, which exists to create a healthier nation by funding and enabling levelling-up opportunities for participation in sport across the country.

At least 75% of Sport England investment is being committed to areas of the country with the lowest levels of physical activity and social outcomes. It funds work spanning established sports such as football and netball, as well as newer sports and activities such as padel, dance and BMX, which extend their reach to wider audiences. We will continue to monitor how money is spent, to gather data to show its impact at a local level and to work with Sport England to include specific key performance indicators to decrease inactivity, particularly among underrepresented groups.

We heard from noble Lords about a range of sports. The noble Baroness, Lady Nye, gave a powerful case study of golf. I am pleased to say that one of the special advisers with whom I had the pleasure of working at DCMS, Mr Robert Oxley, now works for the R&A doing great work to champion many of the benefits that the noble Baroness extolled in her contribution. My noble friend Lord Hayward spoke very powerfully about the value of sports teams—to everybody, including marginalised groups. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, I wish all those taking part in the Bingham Cup in Rome next weekend all the best.

I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Drayson, mentioned motorsports, including Formula 1, which is the sport that I follow most keenly. Fans across the UK were delighted to see Lando Norris secure his first win, in Miami. We hope that it is the first of many. I was glad that the noble Lord also mentioned Earl Howe, winner of Le Mans and inaugural president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which still owns and operates Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix. I hasten to add that this was the fifth Earl, not my noble friend the current Deputy Leader of the House, whose own achievements are manifold.

The Government are particularly focused on how we can support our children and young people to be more active. Participation in school sport has significant well-being benefits, improving young people’s mood and confidence, as noble Lords noted, as well as having a positive impact on their work and behaviour in school. The Government want all school pupils to have access to high-quality PE, school sport and physical activities. Quite simply, experiences in school have a significant impact on young people and can inspire a lifelong habit of being physically active.

PE is a compulsory subject in the national curriculum from key stage 1 to key stage 4. It may be the only exposure that some young people get to organised physical activity. As my noble friend Lady Sater mentioned, the Government continue to fund primary PE through the sport premium. Last year, we confirmed over £600 million of investment in the PE and sport premium for this academic year and next, helping primary schools to deliver high-quality PE and sport provision for their pupils.

Alongside community sports facilities, facilities on school sites represent an important resource for pupils and their families. Last year, the Government confirmed that up to £57 million was being made available to support schools to open their sporting facilities beyond the core day, at weekends and in school holidays. As of last month, over 1,400 schools across England are taking part in the programme, and funding has been targeted where it will have the most positive impact.

The Government also support sport and physical activity outside the school term through the Department for Education’s £200 million investment in the holiday activities and food programme. Last summer, that programme reached over 680,000 children and young people across each of the 153 local authorities in England.

The Government are acting to deliver the right facilities that communities everywhere need across the UK. Our direct investment is delivered mainly through three major programmes. The £327 million multisport grassroots facilities programme provides funding to create and upgrade up to 8,000 football and multisport facilities across the UK. It is not just football focused; 40% of our projects will deliver facilities that can support multiple sports. The noble Lord, Lord Wood, referred to tennis courts in his opening speech; our £21.9 million park tennis court renovation programme aims to renovate over 3,000 public park tennis courts to a playable standard, across Scotland, England and Wales. Our £60.8 million swimming pool support fund supports public swimming pool providers in England with immediate cost pressures to make their facilities sustainable in the longer term.

The Government recently announced an investment of £35 million to extend the England and Wales Cricket Board’s primary and secondary schools programme and to deliver the construction of 16 new cricket domes in places connected with the hosting of the women’s and men’s T20 World Cup. This investment builds on existing investment from Sport England to support children from lower socioeconomic groups to get active. Further details on the location of the new domes and the targeting of funding will be announced in due course.

The Government proudly have a manifesto commitment to maintain the UK’s world-leading reputation for hosting major sporting events, which we know deliver a range of benefits across the whole country. For example, we have just published the final evaluation report into the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which concludes that around £1.2 billion of GVA was added to the UK economy as a result of those Games. There was a 6% increase in visitor numbers to Birmingham that year and a 27% increase in foreign direct investment projects in the West Midlands. I commend the leadership of the outgoing Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, for that and in many other regards.

The Lionesses’ fantastic performance at the European Women’s Championship two years ago truly inspired the nation, with a record-breaking crowd of over 87,000 people attending the final and more than 23 million people across the UK tuning into the BBC’s coverage. It is essential that we take the opportunity to build on the success and legacy of the team to secure a long-lasting and sustainable future for the women’s game.

A UK Sport report found that sporting events staged here in 2022, excluding the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, had a direct economic impact of £132 million, supported 1,600 jobs and had a 6:1 return on investment. The same UK Sport report also found that 83% of Britons are proud that the UK hosts major sporting events, with 70% saying that watching or attending major sporting events has a positive impact on their happiness. This year sees the return of the UEFA Champions League final to Wembley, as well as the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow, which took place in March, and next year sees the Women’s Rugby World Cup coming to our shores.

The noble Lord, Lord Monks, asked about the listed events regime, which exists to ensure that as wide an audience as possible can access and enjoy sport. That, of course, has to be balanced against the ability of rights holders to reinvest in their sport at every level to encourage more people to play it. As the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, advertised, she has amendments to the Media Bill on this topic, which we will debate on Monday afternoon.

This is also an Olympic year, of course. UK Sport has invested £382 million of funding from the Exchequer and the National Lottery in the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. The investment of public money in Olympic and Paralympic sport allows UK athletes who have the potential to achieve at the highest level on the world stage to train full time and focus fully on achieving their sporting potential. We support UK Sport’s ambition for our teams to remain in the top five of the medal tables of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris this summer.

As well as making us all so proud, Olympic and Paralympic sport drives economic growth. In 2017, the GVA of Olympic and Paralympic sports in the UK was almost £25 billion. This means that Olympic and Paralympic sport generates 1.3% of GVA, making it a larger contributor to the UK economy than, for instance, agriculture, forestry and fishing. Two-thirds of the British public say they have been inspired by the success of our Olympic and Paralympic teams, and 40% of these people say that, as a result of being inspired, they have been motivated to do more physical activity themselves. Success in Olympic and Paralympic sport is a superb advert for the UK on the world stage, and our athletes’ success showcases the UK at its very best.

Of course, getting moving is not confined to playing sport. As my noble friend Lord Effingham set out, people can get fitter and healthier through increased walking and cycling in their daily lives. This year, Active Travel England announced £101 million of government funding for high-quality walking and cycling routes. This will unlock sustainable transport options for millions more people across England and give people the choice to travel safely on foot or by bicycle. The importance of active travel in increasing physical activity in children is highlighted in the school sport and activity action plan, which was updated in March. For example, the Bikeability programme has already helped over 4 million children in schools and community settings to learn how to cycle safely. Through our national physical activity taskforce, we are committed to supporting the Department for Education, the Department for Transport and Active Travel England to deliver initiatives to increase active and safe travel to school, such as the Daily Mile, which my noble friend mentioned.

I echo the words the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, gave in tribute to the volunteers who facilitate so much sporting and physical activity across the nation—my noble friend Lord Hayward mentioned his referee’s tie. All achievements in sport are facilitated by the coaches and trainers, and the mums, dads and guardians who provide the lifts, wash the kits and cheer from the sidelines. It is right that their contribution should be remembered today.

In expressing my gratitude to noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, I note that I was struck by the unanimity of spirit: I think we all agreed that sport and physical activity forms an essential part of our society and is vital to improving the health and well-being of the nation. I hope that my response this afternoon has demonstrated that His Majesty’s Government remain committed to helping make physical activity an essential part of everyone’s daily life. The more active we are, the stronger and healthier our communities and economy, and the more prosperous our society. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wood, for reminding us and others of that today.