A national plan for sport, health and wellbeing Contents

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

A national plan for sport, health and wellbeing

The case for a national plan for sport, health and wellbeing

1.We are calling for the development of a long-term cross-government national plan for sport, health and wellbeing. The national plan would form an over-arching framework document which would set out the Government’s vision, aims and objectives over a multi-year period and would bring together disparate strategies covering physical activity, health promotion, planning, housing, education, transport and more. This will mean that some existing strategies such as Sporting Future will need to be incorporated into the national plan and refreshed to reflect the new way of working, but not abandoned. (Paragraph 58)

A new delivery and funding structure

2.Delivery of sport and recreation is uncoordinated and fragmented from the top down and delivery and funding structures are not fit for purpose. There needs to be a new architecture to embed genuine cross-departmental working and to reset delivery and funding. (Paragraph 76)

3.The establishment of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities represents a timely opportunity to make ambitious changes within Government to match the ambitions of the national plan. As a first step the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities should be renamed the Office for Health Promotion and it must be placed on a statutory footing to give it the surety of purpose and authority to truly deliver cross-departmental working, and ensure that all departments are prioritising physical activity, health and wellbeing. (Paragraph 77)

4.We also propose the establishment of a new ministerial post for Sport, Health and Wellbeing. This role will sit within DHSC and will have responsibility for sport, which will be moved from DCMS to DHSC. The role will have joint responsibility with the Office for Health Promotion to develop and oversee implementation of the national plan. (Paragraph 78)

5.The Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing will chair a regular Strategic Forum of central and local government and other key stakeholders to discuss the formation and implementation of the national plan. The national plan must have buy-in and support from local government, metro mayors and Active Partnerships, and it must incorporate the views of the broad range of stakeholders involved in delivering sport and recreation on the ground including grassroots organisations and NGBs. (Paragraph 79)

6.To establish consistent Parliamentary scrutiny of progress of the national plan, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care must coordinate and submit an annual report to Parliament setting out the Government’s performance against the national plan and table a motion in both Houses to debate the annual report. (Paragraph 80)

7.Funding needs to coalesce around the national plan. The Government should look to New Zealand’s wellbeing budget model for inspiration on how to coordinate departmental agendas and budgets around delivering a shared programme of work. The Treasury should review the tax environment for the sector, including for sports clubs, to create a more favourable tax regime that encourages self-sufficiency and reduces dependency on public funding. The Government must also introduce a statutory requirement on local authorities to provide and maintain adequate facilities for sport and physical activity. This will need to be backed up with adequate financial support from the Treasury. (Paragraph 81)

8.To deliver the national plan to the grassroots effectively, Sport England should improve its funding and support for organisations delivering to underrepresented groups by implementing bespoke funding timelines for targeted interventions to allow programmes to become embedded and sustainable. Sport England should also provide ringfenced financial support for local authorities and metro mayors to implement concessions for access to facilities. (Paragraph 82)

Monitoring and evaluation

9.We do not have full confidence in data currently collected and do not believe there is a suitable evidence base for effective monitoring and evaluation. While we recommend keeping the five priority outcomes from Sporting Future for the national plan, we agree with BASES on the need for a Physical Activity Observatory to act as a single point for independent analysis of data, evidence and practice related to physical activity for the sector. The Observatory would be responsible for developing objective and robust measures in collaboration with public and private sector partners, and collecting and analysing non-sensitive data from public and private sector. (Paragraph 101)

10.The new Physical Activity Observatory should seek to collect data consistently and regularly from publicly funded organisations. To do this, it should develop a standard approach for collecting non-personalised data that will provide a clearer picture of how and when people exercise and support efforts to improve access to facilities. Sport England should make funding to organisations contingent on them providing information for the Open Data initiative. (Paragraph 102)

Principles underpinning the national plan

Physical literacy

11.Improving physical literacy must be a key principle at the heart of a national plan. Although the focus on teaching physical literacy must be directed toward children and young people through PE and school sport, it will also be crucial to ensure that opportunities to develop confidence and a love of movement are available to people of all ages and backgrounds. (Paragraph 108)

A welcoming and inclusive environment

12.Inactivity rates among some groups remain stubbornly high and progress to tackle this problem has been disappointing. The Government must utilise the new funding and delivery mechanisms developed through the national plan to tackle these stubborn inequalities. This must include assuring and ensuring that disabled people will not be penalised for being active by the benefits system. (Paragraph 136)

13.The Government must also conduct an audit and develop a clear, fully costed national facilities strategy for pitches, leisure facilities, swimming pools, parks and outdoor spaces. This strategy should be created jointly with local authorities. The strategy need not duplicate the Football Foundation’s facilities plan for football and artificial football pitches. Instead, it will complete the picture of what each local authority needs to ensure that a full range of high-quality facilities and spaces are available and easily accessible for everyone. (Paragraph 137)

14.Local communities, leisure trusts, local clubs, schools, colleges and other higher education institutions with sport and leisure facilities, charities, and social and voluntary enterprises delivering sport and recreation will need to be consulted on the audit and plans resulting from the facilities strategy that pertain to their local area. This includes design and planning of future facilities to ensure that they are accessible to local communities and provide a welcoming and inclusive environment. (Paragraph 138)

15.Discrimination comes in many forms and it is always unacceptable. As part of the national plan the Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing will need to take steps, together with Sport England and UK Sport funded bodies and other key stakeholders, to ensure there is a safe environment for participants in sport and recreation and to raise awareness of the channels through which complaints can be made and how participants can seek support. (Paragraph 148)

16.To tackle abuse on social media platforms the Government must hold social media companies to account for harmful content online. The forthcoming Online Safety Bill should ensure that social media platforms are regulated to prevent such harm with robust enforcement and significant sanctions. (Paragraph 149)

Behaviour change and motivation

17.We support the positive role that public health campaigns like This Girl Can and We are Undefeatable play. We recommend that Sport England seeks robust evidence to better understand their impact and to learn lessons on how public health messaging can be made more effective, especially for underrepresented groups. This is the type of task that could be led by the Physical Activity Observatory. (Paragraph 156)

Tackling inequalities

18.To improve social prescribing, local authorities, working with its health and wellbeing boards, local NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups, must ensure that coordination and quality of social prescribing is enhanced. This must include monitoring and evaluating interventions to ensure that social prescribing is reaching those in need and achieving positive health and wellbeing outcomes. Local clinical commissioning groups should consider the development of a local register of organisations suitable for social prescribing to provide assurance to medical practitioners. (Paragraph 165)

Sport for development

19.Sport for development can turn people’s lives around. In formulating the national plan, the Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing must work with the Ministry of Justice to review the role of sport for development in communities and criminal justice settings. It should consider how sport and physical activity opportunities can best be resourced and deployed to improve outcomes for those who stand to benefit most from sport for development programmes in our communities and those serving custodial sentences, and how these outcomes can best be measured. (Paragraph 182)

Instilling a life-long habit of sport and physical activity

Making sport and physical activity fun and enjoyable

20.Sport and physical activity, both inside school and outside school settings, need to be fun and engaging. Where possible schools should allow children the choice of what sort of activity they would like to take part in including the option to take part in non-competitive activities. (Paragraph 190)

PE and school sport

21.We believe that the physical literacy of children should be valued as highly as their literacy and numeracy. To this end, the Department for Education must designate PE as a core subject across all key stages to ensure that it receives adequate time and resource. The Department for Education must establish expected standards for the delivery of PE and school sport. The quality and delivery of PE and school sport must be assessed during Ofsted inspections of schools. (Paragraph 222)

22.We are disappointed and alarmed to hear that some primary school teachers are entering the profession with only a few hours’ training in delivering PE lessons and physical activity. The Government must work with teacher training providers to ensure adequate time is allocated in teacher training courses to build knowledge and confidence in the delivery of PE, and to assess trainee teachers’ understanding of physical literacy. (Paragraph 223)

23.Schools should always provide pupils from all backgrounds and abilities with a safe environment where they can feel comfortable and free from judgement or criticism when exploring sport and recreation activities. When reviewing School Sport and Activity Action Plan, the Department for Education should include guidance for schools to ensure that all pupils can try a wide range of sports and activities. Guidance should also be provided to schools to support the participation of children and young disabled people. (Paragraph 224)

PE and Sport Premium

24.The Department for Education must guarantee funding for the PESP for the long-term, ensuring that it is maintained at least at the current amount of £320 million each year, and ensure that schools are aware of their allocated funding well in advance of the forthcoming academic year to ensure that they can plan for effective use of the funding. (Paragraph 246)

25.The Department for Education must provide schools with adequate guidance for finding qualified external providers of sports coaching and how to utilise them effectively to build teacher confidence in delivering sport offers. The Department for Education must develop an accreditation scheme for external providers who deliver sport in schools to improve accountability of external provision and ensure that the highest safeguarding standards are maintained. (Paragraph 247)

26.The Department for Education needs to monitor PESP spending and outcomes better to ensure it is getting value for money. Failures by schools to publish their PESP spending and outcomes must be investigated by Department for Education. (Paragraph 248)

27.The Department for Education must review the untapped potential for physical activity to be embedded in the school day, including incorporating physical activity into lessons beyond PE. (Paragraph 255)

28.To support children to be active, the Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing must work with the Department for Education to launch a campaign to encourage and inspire parents to be active with their children outside of school. (Paragraph 256)

Linking schools, clubs and communities

29.Some sports and local clubs have established positive partnerships with schools, but there is considerably more potential for schools and local sports clubs to connect and work together to encourage more participation in grassroots sport. (Paragraph 273)

30.The Department for Education must work with NGBs to support the delivery of tuition and sport offers by local clubs. This can establish links between schools and wider community and grassroots sport and physical activity opportunities for children and young people. (Paragraph 274)

31.We are encouraged by the efforts made to support the opening of school sport facilities to their communities. However, we do not believe that progress is being made swiftly enough in this area and there remains significant untapped potential which restricts the availability of sport facilities to community sport clubs and the wider population. (Paragraph 275)

32.We believe that with the right support, schools can open their facilities to local communities. The Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing will need to work closely with the Department for Education, local authorities and Active Partnerships, including through the Strategic Forum, to identify, engage with and support schools and other educational institutions, such as colleges, to open their facilities to local clubs and their communities. (Paragraph 276)

Enabling active lifestyles

Developing a whole system, place-based approach

33.A national plan must take a broad, whole system approach so that activity can be embedded in all aspects of our everyday life including work, leisure time, health and travel. At the same time, a one-size fits all approach will not work. Funding needs to be distributed to the local, grassroots level with power residing in local authorities, metro mayors and communities to develop place-based approaches. (Paragraph 284)

Planning and design

34.The Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda provides an opportunity to invest in active travel infrastructure and improve the planning and design of our buildings, houses and public spaces to increase physical activity. We must move away from disconnected systems that result in car dependency and which make it less convenient for people to be active in their everyday life. This also includes improving access to parks, rights of way, rivers and lakes, coastal paths and national parks. (Paragraph 303)

35.The Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing will need to work with Defra, local authorities and other stakeholders, including private landowners, to improve public access to the countryside, using opportunities such as the Environment Land Management Schemes to incentivise and improve maintenance, signage, facilities, parking and public transport options. (Paragraph 304)


36.Technology has the potential to transform the way people stay active and how they access facilities and physical activity opportunities. Although it has limitations, including in reaching underrepresented groups, it has the potential to incentivise physical activity at scale through methods including gamification. (Paragraph 325)

37.As part of the national plan, relevant Government departments must reach out to and work with the private sector and academia to develop, trial and roll out new evidence-based apps and use open data better. The priority must be finding new ways to engage and target underrepresented groups and to bring new audiences to physical activity. (Paragraph 326)

Duty of care and safeguarding

Creating a robust duty of care and safeguarding system from grassroots to elite sport

38.We are unimpressed by the Government’s assertion that progress on implementing recommendations from the independent review on Duty of Care in Sport was de-prioritised to redirect efforts to the Government pandemic response. Issues raised in the independent review have not gone away. The lack of progress on the implementation of an independent sports ombudsman, which pre-dates the outbreak of COVID-19, is unacceptable. (Paragraph 360)

39.We strongly recommend that the Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing proceeds with implementing the remaining recommendations in the independent review on Duty of Care in Sport, prioritising the establishment of an independent sports ombudsman with a remit to cover all bodies delivering sport regardless of whether they receive public funding. (Paragraph 361)

40.The Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing must work with Sport England and UK Sport to ensure that publicly funded bodies are dedicating sufficient resources and attention to uphold duty of care and safeguarding standards at all levels of their sports. (Paragraph 362)

41.We welcome the additional requirements in the revised Code for Sports Governance including for publicly funded bodies to appoint a Director responsible for welfare and sport safety. However, we are not convinced that this will be enough to shift the culture within publicly funded bodies that do not prioritise duty of care and safeguarding standards. We recommend that Sport England and UK Sport conduct and publish a review after 18 months which evaluates the impact of the revised Code to ensure that the ambitions for the updated Code are being delivered by funded bodies and NGBs, and that it is making a difference on the ground. (Paragraph 363)

42.We would like to see stronger links and communication between bodies delivering sport, and the police and local authority children’s and adult safeguarding boards to ensure that crucial information is shared. There should be a representative from the sector, potentially from the local Active Partnership, who will act as a contact for safeguarding boards and the police to help them liaise with the sector. (Paragraph 373)

43.Given the potential for abuse in sport and recreation settings, we recommend that the Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing consult and work with the sector to introduce mandatory reporting in sport and recreation settings. (Paragraph 374)

Duty of care and safeguarding of adults, elite athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers

44.The independent sports ombudsman should provide an avenue for grassroots and elite sportspeople to report mistreatment in their sport. NGBs must promote the independent sports ombudsman’s functions and how elite athletes can contact them once it has been established. (Paragraph 396)

45.Safeguarding policies for adults and children in sport must be extended and made consistent across all sports to include conduct online, including social media, to ensure that participants in sport and recreation can be better protected. (Paragraph 397)

46.Monitoring of what works for duty of care and safeguarding in the sector is insufficient. Monitoring and sharing good practice should form part of the role of the independent sports ombudsman. (Paragraph 405)

47.The credibility of Sport England and UK Sport is undermined if the threat of financial sanctions is raised but not implemented. Sport England and UK Sport must follow through and remove funding from NGBs and other funded bodies which fail to meet required duty of care and safeguarding standards. (Paragraph 406)


Careers in sport and recreation

48.The sport and recreation workforce receives inadequate recognition. The contribution of the workforce in supporting a more active and healthy nation is fundamental to the success of the national plan. We urge the Department for Education to work with CIMSPA to review the state of apprenticeships and national qualifications which can support careers in the sector. The Government should publish its findings by the spring of 2023. (Paragraph 416)

Coaching and volunteering

49.We urge Sport England to consider how funding it disseminates to NGBs and other bodies can be utilised to provide training and qualifications for the workforce to support their development, recognise their skills, and to equip them to deliver high-quality sport and recreation offers. (Paragraph 423)

50.We urge the Minister for Sport, Health and Wellbeing to appoint a ‘sport volunteers champion’ who works with the Minister and the sector to identify and help remove barriers, burdens and disincentives that volunteers face at the grassroots. (Paragraph 424)

National register of coaches

51.We welcome the news that discussions on a national register are underway. We appreciate the complexity of achieving a rigorous system which must avoid imposing cumbersome bureaucracy and costs on the workforce, especially volunteers. (Paragraph 435)

52.Sport England and UK Sport should continue to work closely with CIMSPA, UK Coaching and other relevant bodies to develop a national register of coaches to both enhance portability of qualifications and improve safeguarding, and commit to a date for its launch. (Paragraph 436)

Improving diversity

53.Workforce diversity surveys should be mandatory for tier 2 organisations, as well as tier 3 organisations as set out in the Code for Sports Governance. Data for each organisation should be made publicly available on a regular basis so that organisations are accountable. Larger NGBs and other bodies funded by Sport England and UK Sport should support their grassroots clubs in surveying its workforce, both paid and volunteers, to better understand those who help facilitate grassroots sport and recreation opportunities. (Paragraph 457)

54.Whilst we welcome new requirements announced for the revised Code for Sports Governance, including Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans, Sport England and UK Sport should be more ambitious and set targets to improve board diversity for other underrepresented groups including ethnic minorities and disabled people. Failure to make progress with the targets should be met with financial sanctions. (Paragraph 458)

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