Written evidence from Sport England (OLL 20)

 

1. Sport England

 

1.1 Sport England is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) sponsored by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), and charged with creating a world-leading community sport system.

 

1.2 Our aim is to grow and sustain levels of adult sporting participation, and to nurture those with talent to achieve their potential. As part of our ambition, we are focussed on delivering the following strategic outcomes:

 

o One million people doing more sport by 2012/13

 

o A major contribution to the 5 hour offer to children and young people

 

o Reduce 'drop off' in participation between the ages of 16 and 18 in nine sports

 

o Increase participants' satisfaction with their sporting experience

 

o Improve talent development systems in at least 25 sports.

 

1.3 We receive approximately 250 million per annum - 135 million of Exchequer and 116 million of Lottery funding. All of our investments and efforts are focussed upon our outcomes which, when met, will make a significant contribution to the delivery of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy.

 

2. Delivering a lasting sporting legacy

 

2.1 The Government's legacy action plan, published by the DCMS in June 2008, committed to using the 2012 Games to "make the UK a world-leading sporting nation". Key ambitions include:

 

o Inspiring young people through sport: offer all five to 16 year-olds in England five hours of high-quality sport a week and all 16 to 19 year-olds three hours a week by 2012.

o Getting people more active: help at least two million more people in England be more active by 2012 ( one million through sport and one million through physical activity).

o Elite Achievement: aim for fourth in the Olympic medal table and at least second in the Paralympic medal table in 2012.

 

2.2 Through the investment of almost 880million of funding over four years, and the continued provision of expertise in sports development, Sport England is contributing to two key aspects of the legacy plan.

 

2.3 Firstly, we have a target of getting one million people playing more sport by 2012/13. Our definition of sports participation is based upon sustainable, regular participation which incorporates three sessions of 30 minutes, moderate intensity sporting activity per week. The Government's additional target of one million people being more physically active is being delivered by the Department of Health.

 

2.4 Secondly, we are working alongside the Youth Sport Trust to offer all 5 to 16 year-olds in England five hours of high-quality sport a week, and all 16 to 19 year-olds three hours a week by 2012. While the Trust leads on in-school and curriculum-based activities, Sport England is responsible for club and community activities outside the school gate. It is only by linking the two that the five hour offer can be achieved.

 

2.5 We also have a significant role to play in the development of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venues. Not only are we investing in the infrastructure and facilities of the Olympic Park, we are also providing design and development expertise, to ensure that the relevant venues are suitably adapted for community use once the games are over.

3. Maximising the sporting legacy

 

3.1 We believe that a successful sporting legacy will only be achieved if a strategic approach is taken to investment and delivery, maximising the potential of all organisations involved to deliver a single vision - to create a world-leading community sport system. This requires:

 

o Building and maintaining a strong infrastructure and network of governing bodies, facilities, clubs and providers - to both provide opportunities and stimulate demand for sport.

o Ensuring opportunities for people from across all sectors of society to take part in sports which are attractive, convenient and accessible.

o Providing research and evaluation to partners - allowing us to track the progress/success/impact of our initiatives, and share best practice.

o Understanding the changing landscape and the many different ways in which people want to consume sport.

 

3.2 Our focus goes beyond 2012. As we look towards the golden decade of sport, we want to fundamentally change the sporting behaviours of a nation - ensuring more people are taking part and reaching their potential. We believe that a true Olympic legacy should be judged over a much longer term, as we begin to see the benefits of the considerable investment made in sport in this country really take effect. If the right investment has been made in the right places to deliver genuine sustainability, we will see a community sport system developed in this country which has the capacity to handle levels of participation which far outstrip the current figures and targets that we have in place today.

 

3.3 Sport England's role in delivering this vision is to act as a national, strategic commissioner of outcomes, establishing shared overarching goals relating to participation and enabling partners to deliver those effectively. We add value to the sport sector through our unique ability to look right across the community sport landscape, identifying what works best, where and why.

 

3.4 Our centres of excellence provide both strategic and operational expertise on specific areas of development (such as planning, research, coaching, talent development and inclusion) in addition to regional and local knowledge, and connectivity to delivery partners.

 

3.5 One example of this is in Rotherham where we helped the local authority adopt a strategic approach to developing their facility stock. Rotherham Council took the decision to replace its ageing facilities with new purpose-built, state-of-the-art leisure centres. They recognised that new sports participants were turned off by the poor state of the facilities, poor location and inaccessibility. Using Sport England's tools - such as Active Places - and working with the Amateur Swimming Association - they were able to understand consumer demand for sports facilities in their area, and develop a carefully planned approach to all sports provision. Their decision to rationalise and provide higher quality facilities in the right places, resulted in more people accessing leisure facilities.

 

3.6 The delivery of a participation legacy will require not just shrewd investment in, and development of, an effective sporting infrastructure - but also the delivery of real behavioural change. We, and our partners, must ensure that the awareness and understanding of the benefits of sport are there for all to see, and the sports themselves must engage with their existing, and future, participants in a way that many of them have not done previously.

 

3.7 Simply 'build it and they will come' is no longer an appropriate way of addressing the challenge of getting more people into sport. What is needed to meet 21st Century demands for sustainable change is a requirement for sport to put the customer first, understand their needs and create a package that meets their needs. All of this will take time, and it is important that steady progress is not only recognised, but understood as we move ahead to 2012.

 


3.8 National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs)

 

3.8.1 We believe that the National Governing Bodies of sport have the ability to make the greatest contribution to our outcome of getting one million people playing more sport, which is why they sit at the heart of our new strategy.

 

3.8.2 In December 2008, we announced our investment of 480 million of Lottery and Exchequer funding over four years (2009-13) in 46 NGBs. Included in this funding cycle, and for the first time ever, are all Olympic and Paralympic sports, including handball, goalball and wheelchair basketball, in addition to sports which have a participant base of 75,000 or more.

 

3.8.3 We have given national governing bodies greater autonomy over the development of their strategic plans and the public investment made in them - recognising their expert knowledge of their sport and participants.

 

3.8.4 The money each governing body has received is an investment - with an expected return in the form of delivery of outcomes and value for money. It is not acceptable for initiatives and outputs to be delivered without a clear and demonstrable impact on the participation levels in that sport. It is this which will make the greatest contribution to our target of one million people playing more sport by 2012/13.

 

3.8.5 Through the bi-annual measurement of their performance, and annual publication of an overall rating on a sport-by-sport basis, we are developing a sustainable culture of delivery and accountability throughout community sport. Earned autonomy and accountability now go hand-in-hand for the NGBs that we fund.

 

3.8.6 If governing bodies are going to reach their targets, each one will have to adopt a level of market awareness not previously seen in community sport. Innovation is critical if sport is to not only maintain its popularity and appeal in uncertain economic times, but also provide the opportunities to meet future levels of demand.

 

3.8.7 They must look beyond their traditional models, networks and customers, pushing the boundaries of their conventional offer. Pay and play models, without the tie of membership fees or a structured, regular commitment, have increasing appeal to the consumer, as do shorter and more convenient forms of traditional sports. Those which have minimal or no cost associated with participation are also seeing a rise in popularity, and it is essential that other sports look at how they can adapt to the requirements of the marketplace.

 

3.8.8 To support the NGBs, and learning from the customer-focus of other sectors, Sport England has developed a new piece of research that provides real insight into the satisfaction levels of sports participants at every level. Increasing satisfaction lies at the heart of sustaining participation because the quality of the sporting experience on offer is a key factor in attracting and retaining participants. All too often, people drop out of sporting activity because of a poor experience they have had, whether that is lack of available coaching, expensive memberships - or a poorly run facility.

 

3.8.9 Our satisfaction survey enables NGBs to understand the quality of the sporting experience they are providing to their participants, as well as providing them with information on the areas of greatest importance to their existing, and potential, customers.

 

3.8.10 This is the first time sport has taken a market based approach to attracting and retaining participants and will prove invaluable to sports seeking to grow their numbers.

 

3.9 Children and Young People

 

3.9.1 Choice and engagement are key to encouraging young people in sport and preventing them from dropping out at the critical 16-18 point. We recognise how important it is to ensure that young people develop a lifelong sporting habit at a young age. To achieve this, sport needs to be seen as an intrinsic life choice. In the same way sport must take a market-based approach to reach out to more adults, governing bodies must understand the specific needs and aspirations of young people, if we are to make a generational step change.

 

3.9.2 As part of the Government's Five Hour Offer, Sport England works in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust to deliver the Government's PE and Sport Strategy for Young People (PESSYP).

 

3.9.3 One programme in which we are investing 13million per year, is Sport Unlimited, which will provide 900,000 11-19 year olds access to high-quality taster courses in an array of sports. We have already seen considerable success in year one, with 177,000 young people completing the courses. Success is attributed to the scheme being young person led, offering a wide range of sports - from football to ultimate Frisbee - and using social media to engage.

 

3.9.4 We are also investing 4 million per year in 34 NGBs to deliver an additional half million new 5-19 club participants/volunteers by 2012/13.

 

3.10 Targeted Sport England investment

 

3.10.1 While our strategy, and therefore our funding, is primarily focused upon NGBs, we recognise that they cannot deliver the ambitious targets that they have been set without assistance from other areas of the community sports landscape. Local government, higher and further education and the third sector, in addition to many individual projects and community groups across the country, provide much of the investment and opportunities required to grow participation at a local level. We are conscious of the continued financial constraints within which many of these are operating, and within our funding strategy we have made up to 65 million available via open funding streams and other lines of investment.

 

3.10.2 These include:

 

3.10.2.1 Launched in April 2009, we have made available up to 30 million of lottery funding per year through our Themed Rounds, which aim to both address barriers and create new opportunities for participation in sport in under represented. Our first two are already in place, focussed upon encouraging rural communities and getting mums and women from deprived communities to be more active.

 

3.10.2.2 7 million for Small Grants, and 3 million for Sportsmatch per annum to ensure that the foundations of sport - the clubs and community groups - can grow and sustain themselves.

 

3.10.2.3 5 million for our Innovation Fund invests in original projects that have the ability to change or enhance the patterns of people's participation habits in a way that has yet to be seen in the mass market.

 

3.10.2.4 In addition to our open funding streams, we have invested 10 million of funding into specialist National Partners (such as the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, Sporting Equals and sportscoach UK) to engage and attract those areas and groups traditionally underrepresented in sport, and which require specialist support.

 

3.10.2.5 To aid local connectivity, something which we consider essential in ensuring that we achieve our outcomes, we have invested 10 million (200,000 each) in the County Sport Partnerships (CSPs), whose role it is to lever more funding into sport, connect NGBs with local authority and other local community initiatives and clubs and coaches to support the sporting infrastructure.

3.11 Facilities

 

3.11.1 A world-leading community sport structure has high-quality, well maintained facilities in the right places, which are also well-managed and utilised effectively. The arbitrary building of many more facilities in this country would not necessarily provide the benefits that many people believe. There are many impressive developments across England which simply do not address the needs of the local community.

 

3.11.2 We now need to move the debate on beyond the numbers and look at the needs of today's participants. If a facility is not being used, it may be because it is poorly located or doesn't offer the right facilities, and as a result is operating at a growing deficit. It may be better for a local authority, or other provider, to consider alternative options, for example redeveloping or consolidating existing sports facilities or building new ones fit for the needs of the 21st century.

 

3.11.3 As well as providing expertise, we continually invest in facilities across England, including new build and upgrades to community sports pitches, changing facilities, tracks, stadiums and courts. 10 million has already been allocated through our Sustainable Facilities Fund this year and nearly 100 million is being invested via the 46 NGBs. In many cases we also provide strategic advice as to the design, location and sustainability of those projects, and no investment is made without a clear justification as to the need for, and suitability of, a facility.

 

3.12 London

 

3.12.1 In 2005, when London won the bid, sports participation in East London was amongst of the lowest in the country. With high levels of social and economic deprivation, poor transport infrastructure and a dearth of adequate sports facilities, growing participation in East London was one of the biggest challenges facing the legacy partners. However, our experience to date is that those involved in maximising the opportunity to grow participation are making steady progress and most understand the need for a long-term approach.

 

3.12.2 Our involvement in the Olympic and Paralympic host city has focused upon working with the Mayor to develop a sports participation London-wide legacy strategy - 'A Sporting Future for London'. This plan emphasises the importance of Sport England's approach by linking the Mayor's investment in sports projects with NGB plans, to ensure that it complements activity already being delivered.

 

3.12.3 The Mayor has allocated 15.5 million over four years in the run up to the games and we are working closely with our partners to ensure that this investment achieves maximum impact.

 

4. The use and management of the Olympic Park and venues after 2012

 

4.1 As well as investing over 50 million in the park facilities, Sport England's role is to work with the partners to ensure the design and development of the facilities is both sustainable and accessible to the community once the Games is over. Just as importantly, we must ensure that the park facilities complement other facilities in the five host boroughs and genuinely increase participation without displacing users from existing sites.

 

4.2 Sport England is the only national body with a strategic view of facility provision across the country. We have over 20 years experience of investing in, and advising on, the design and development of sports facilities that attract and enable all sectors of society to play sport. Our unique role and experience enables us to advocate excellent facilities and planning models, sharing best practice and lessons learned. We advised Manchester City Council on how the Commonwealth Games facilities would meet the needs of the community without displacing users from other providers, a model which provides a clear example of successful planning for community use post-games.

 

4.3 We are directly investing National Lottery funding in three Olympic and Paralympic Park venues:

 

o 40million in the Aquatics Centre - ensuring the 50-metre pools can be adapted in size and depth, allowing elite training and children's swimming lessons to take place at the same time.

 

o 10.5million in the VeloPark - where modifications post-games will create a superb hub for track, bmx, off-road and road cycling.

 

o 900,000 in the white water centre at Broxbourne - which will provide a challenging and enjoyable experience for tens of thousands of community users every year.

 

4.4 In addition, we are supporting a number of NGBs that have permanent stadia in the park to ensure that their facilities are built to the governing body standard for both club and elite development. One example is our support for England Hockey's concerns regarding adequate hockey facilities for competition post-games. We have now ensured that the specification for Eton Manor provides hockey with a suitable post-games competition venue for community and elite use.

 

4.5 To build and maintain sustainable community facilities in the park a long term view is essential - and we have been encouraged by the willingness of Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) to take that. Its introduction three years ahead of the games, and the subsequent re-examination of the Legacy Masterplan presents an opportunity to ensure the vision for the park is focused not only on the requirements for games-time, but also for the community post-2012.

 

4.6 We strongly believe that developing a plan of how the facilities will operate across the five boroughs not only during the games, but for five and 25 years after the games is vital if we are going to grow and sustain participation in East London. We have been working with each host borough to assess the current standard, type and suitability of existing facilities, developing a strategy, which focuses on how the park facilities can best be developed to provide complementary provision to the facilities they already have in place.

 

5 Delivering and measuring progress towards meeting sports participation targets

 

5.1 One million doing more sport

 

5.1.1 A major focus for Sport England is to fulfil the Olympic and Paralympic pledge to get one million people taking part in more sport by 2012/13.

 

5.1.2 Significant progress has already been made towards meeting targets to increase grassroots participation in sport, as demonstrated by the Active People Survey.

 

5.1.3 The survey provides by far the largest sample size ever established for a sport and recreation survey and allows for levels of detailed analysis and accuracy previously unavailable. It identifies how participation varies across the country and between different groups of the population[1].

 

5.1.4 Latest data[2] continues to show an increase in grassroots participation in sport:

 

o The third Active People Survey (December 2009) shows regular participation at 6.93 million - 10% more than recorded in the first Active People Survey in 2005;

 

o Between 2007/8 and 2008/9, 115,000 people played more sport;

 

o In London 54,000 people are playing more sport since 2005

 

5.1.5 Six months into the NGB funding agreements, 12 out of 33 sports with growth targets have seen an increase in overall participant numbers, with six sports[3] already meeting their growth targets for year one. In addition to cycling and athletics, which have delivered a combined increase of over 240,000 weekly participants, boxing, table tennis, canoeing and netball have all met their year one target.

 

o Participation in athletics (including running and jogging) has grown from 1.61 million adults in 2007/8 to 1.74 million adults in 2008/9, an increase of 128,000 participants.

o Cycling participation has grown from 1.77 million adults to 1.88 million adults, an increase of 113,000 participants.

 

o Participation in canoeing and kayaking has grown from 43,500 adults to 62,900 adults, an increase of 19,000 participants. This appears to have benefited from a larger number of people taking domestic canoeing or kayaking holidays this summer.

 

o Tennis participation has increased from 487,500 adults to 530,000 adults, an increase of 43,000 participants. Significant increases in participation occurred in the three months since Wimbledon.

 

5.1.6 The Active People Survey also reports on our aim to increase the numbers of young people (16-19 year olds) participation in regular sport. While we have not witnessed significant increases in participation amongst this age group, results show that we have managed to reduce the numbers of young people dropping out of sport.

 

5.1.7 In addition to the increase in adult participation, evidence shows that in 2008/09 our School Club Links enabled 1.5 million to take part in sport at accredited clubs - an increase of 130,000 on the previous year. On average schools had links with seven different clubs in 2007/08 compared to five in 2003/04 and 32% of pupils participated in club sport in 2007/08 compared to 19% in 2003/04.

 

5.1.8 It is worth highlighting that to build a sustainable grassroots legacy, we must not only provide opportunities for people to participate, but also change behaviour, which requires sustained investment, innovation and resources over a long-term period. The inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympics provides a unique opportunity to raise the profile of sport and appeal to a wider range of people, it is for all those in sport to capitalise on this.

 

6. Looking ahead

 

6.1 While progress is undoubtedly being made in putting in place the foundations of a world-leading community sport system that will underpin a lasting sporting legacy, there are challenges ahead of which we must be mindful.

 

6.2 The challenge of any mass participation event such as the Olympics and Paralympics is not the boosting of grassroots participation, but the sustaining of it. With our long-term definition of legacy must come a long-term vision, which we must instil in our partners, particularly those in whom we have made significant investment.

 

6.3 The recession

 

6.3.1 The impact of the recession on the grassroots sports participation legacy remains unclear.

 

6.3.2 Sport must be mindful of the economic challenges faced by many of its customers. As referenced earlier, sports with a higher cost of participation, such as golf, sailing and snowsport, appear to be facing challenges in retaining participants, and indicators also suggest that many people are opting to do free leisure activities or switching from formal club settings to informal, activities such as pay and play. For those sports particularly affected, revising their offer to take account of the changing economic environment could help them maintain and even grow their participation base. Equally for other sports, the economic downturn presents an opportunity to engage a new demographic and reach out to new participants.

 

6.3.3 There are however some positive signs with lottery sales, gym membership and sports that have low cost barriers to entry such as cycling and running, experiencing strong growth. Evidence from the past twenty years suggests that participation can increase during times of economic downturn, perhaps due to changing working patterns and more free time.

 

6.3.4 Longer term, two of the most significant threats is reduced funding for sport facilities and provision, through spending cuts at local authority level and within the education sector, and the increase in non-domestic property rates, water rates and the Community Infrastructure Levy. All of this could have a direct impact on access to facilities and resources available for sports activity and development throughout the country. Both government and ourselves must assist local government as much as possible in making the case for continued sports investment, and providing the leadership and conditions for that investment to provide maximum value.

 

6.3.5 Our role is to make sure that our investment works harder, that is why we are encouraging NGBs to take a market-based approach, why we are making sure local government spend is aligned to NGB plans to maximise opportunity and avoid duplication, and why we will be ruthless with our investment.

 

6.4 Conclusion

 

6.4.1 It must be remembered that enabling and motivating people to take part in more sport requires mass behavioural change which takes sustained time and effort, and continued commitment from a range of partners.

 

6.4.2 The 'decade of sport' presents all those working in sport with the opportunity of sustained change - where people of all ages and abilities are taking part, where people are enthused to stay involved and introduce more people to their sport and that those with talent are nurtured to achieve their potential.

 

6.4.3 The progress being made is steady, and we can expect that to change pace as more and more initiatives and projects start to mature and deliver. What is needed now is for the vision and the investment to be maintained and the transformational change in sporting participation delivered.

 

6.4.4 With the vast majority of sporting partners in support of and committed to our current strategy to build a world-leading community sport system, we are confident we will deliver. Through sustained funding and continued co-operation between partners, the foundations are being built to deliver a successful 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

 

January 2010



[1] It also measures the proportion of the adult population that volunteer in sport on a weekly basis; club membership; involvement in organised sport/competition; receipt of tuition or coaching; and overall satisfaction with levels of sporting provision in the local community - in essence many of the component parts of a world-leading system. In addition to providing NGB measurements, it also provides the performance measure for the local government indicator NI8 for sport and recreation, adopted as a priority with Local Area Agreements for 82 upper tier local authorities.

[2] The sports participation indicator measures the number of adults (aged 16 and over) participating in at least 30 minutes of sport at moderate intensity at least three times a week.

[3] 13 of the funded sports are either not moderate intensity or have too small a sample size for their growth targets to be measured through the Active People Survey.