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3 Mar 2021 | 19:19
  • Community sport and sport for development contribute to a wide range of social outcomes and can support many of the objectives of the 2021 Budget focused on protecting jobs and livelihoods and driving investment-led recovery from the pandemic.  
  • The outcomes supported by the sector include helping people into employment and developing job-ready skills; assisting young people to catch up on lost learning; contributing to regeneration efforts as well as reducing societal costs through improved health and wellbeing, social cohesion, and reduced crime and anti-social behaviour. 
  • The Sport for Development Coalition is a growing group of 180-plus charities and organisations delivering these outcomes, and its Executive Director has called for the areas of Government responsible for managing the new spending measures to work with the community sport and sport for development sector to maximise the important contribution it can make to the objectives set out in the 2021 Budget. 

The Sport for Development Coalition has called for spending measures announced in the 2021 Budget to be integrated into targeted plans to “protect and enhance” the contribution sport and physical activity can make to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in areas such as employment and skills development, catching up on lost learning, social cohesion and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. 

The Coalition’s Executive Director, Ollie Dudfield was speaking in response to the unveiling of the Budget by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday. 

In the Budget, a range of spending measures were announced to protect jobs and livelihoods and drive investment-led recovery from the pandemic.

Football Beyond Borders

While welcoming the announcement of a £300million summer sports recovery package for major spectator sports, clubs and governing bodies, the Coalition’s Executive Director addressed a wider range of measures relevant to maximising the role that the sector can play in national recovery.

Ollie commented: “Community sport and sport for development can make an important contribution to a number of the priorities outlined by the Chancellor, from getting young people into employment, to helping students catch up on lost learning, and innovative responses to local needs and challenges.


“Prior to the pandemic, community sport and physical activity generated over £85billion of social and economic value per year in England alone. The question facing our sector, and Government at all levels, is how we protect and enhance this contribution in response to the most substantial challenge faced for generations.

“Ensuring that the role community sport and sport for development can play is fully recognised in the implementation of the range of spending measures and funding schemes announced, is essential.” 

These measures include: 

  • Helping young people into employment through £126million funding to support quality work placements for 16 to 24-year-olds, £3000 per hire for employers who appoint new apprentices, and a £7million fund to set up portable apprenticeships. The work of organisations in the Sport for Development Coalition such as Street LeagueSport 4 LifeSchool of Hard KnocksCoach Core and EFL Trust in supporting skills development and employability for young people makes the sector well placed to support this priority area. 
  • Helping young people catch up on lost learning through a further £700million funding for a recovery premium, expanded tutoring programme and face-to-face summer schools. Youth Sport Trust’s national impact, Sport Leaders' response to Covid-19, and the outcomes delivered by organisations such as Chance to ShineGreenhouse SportsDallaglio Rugby Works and Football Beyond Borders (pictured above), all in support of wider education outcomes, underscore the role the sector can play in contributing to this objective.    
  • Supporting community groups to take ownership of local facilities through a £150million Community Ownership Fund. While funding to support community ownership of ‘competitive’ community sports clubs and sports grounds is welcome, the thousands of community groups and local clubs working with Coalition supporters such as StreetGamesSported and Access Sport are well placed to support ownership of assets in a manner that would ensure the diversity of communities across the UK benefit from local facilities and amenities. 
  • Improving parks and green spaces, and designing out opportunities for crime and anti-social behaviour as part of the ‘Regeneration’ focus of the £4.8billion Levelling Up Fund. Initiatives being led by organisations in the Coalition ranging from Levelling the Playing Field to GoodGym means the sector is well placed to support this investment theme. 
  • Investing in innovative responses to local challenges and local need through the £220million UK Community Renewal Fund. The focus on community and place-based delivery across the sport sector, the support of the Active Partnerships Network, and the approach embedded in initiatives as diverse as Activity Alliance’s Get Out Get Active initiativeEmpire Fighting Chance and The Wave Project, means the sport for development sector is fully aligned with the Fund’s objectives. 
  • Supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that will play a key role in national recovery through the Help to Grow Scheme and the Future Fund: Breakthrough schemes. The SMEs across the Coalition with charitable or community interest company status, that are delivering important social outcomes, including through tech-driven solutions, would benefit from access to the management training, productivity-enhancing software and investment supported through these schemes.   

The Chancellor also announced further support for jobs and workers, through the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and business rates relief. He described the Budget as one that “provides support for people and businesses and families through the remaining stages of this crisis”. 

The Coalition’s response follows a House of Lords hearing last week, during which Coalition and charity executives were asked who they thought should fund the growth of Sport for Development initiatives since they are sometimes perceived to fall between two stools, contributing as they do to both sport and social policies. 

In his submission to the hearing, the Coalition’s Executive Director called for dedicated multi-stakeholder plans to be laid out for each priority outcome areas of Sport for Development, such as mental health and wellbeing, employability, supporting young people into education and training, social cohesion, and reducing entry into criminal justice system. Many of these are included in Sport England’s new 10-year strategy, Uniting the Movement, but Ollie argued that to fully deliver the vision set out in this strategy there is a need for a targeted plans and resourcing to support the contribution that sport and physical activity can make to wider outcomes as part of the recovery and ‘re-invigoration’ of the nation. 

The Coalition is calling for the Government departments responsible for the outcomes outlined alongside those who will manage the funding measures announced in the Budget – such as Health and Social Care, Housing, Communities and Local Government, Home Office, Justice, Work and Pensions – to work with the sport sector to develop these blueprints. 


This approach would help mobilise a diversity of stakeholders and organisations beyond the traditional sport and physical activity system, enhance opportunities to be active for many individuals and communities currently under-represented in the sector, while also ensuring that sport plays its role in responding to the generational challenge brought on by Covid-19 as part of the Coalition’s calls for a ‘new social contract with sport and physical activity’.  

The School Sport and Activity Plan was tabled as a model that could be followed. This plan brings together multiple Government departments and is focused on enhancing the role of sport and physical activity in delivering quality education outcomes. The plan is supported by a range of community stakeholders, including from across the Coalition’s own network of 180-plus organisations.

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Pic credit: Youth Sport Trust, Football Beyond Borders.