Sport, recreation and physical activity sector responds to Spring Budget

A missed opportunity for Government to realise it's own ambitions.

The National Sector Partners Group (NSPG) has issued the following response to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget 2024 

The Chancellor said there can be no “solid growth without solid finances”, but we know there can be no growth without improved health too. The announcements yesterday will do little to move the dial on physical activity levels nor  unlock the potential of our sector to contribute to wider Government policy priorities.

Yesterday’s Budget was a missed opportunity to improve the health and productivity of the nation by supporting more people to be active. Given the Budget’s focus on increasing productivity, workforce and NHS efficiency,  further measures designed to support the sport, recreation and physical activity sector to achieve these priorities - including targeted tax and regulatory reforms and wider investment - should have been much more prominent in this announcement. 

More broadly the Government’s own Get Active strategy sets targets to get 2.5 million more adults and one million more children active by 2030. And there remain very serious financial pressures on local government with cuts already being made to non-statutory services such as sport and leisure in many areas. These targets are therefore at serious risk given the lack of measures in the Budget to help achieve them.

The NSPG has demonstrated the value of increased levels of physical activity in direct savings for the NHS, increased productivity and wellbeing benefits. However, realising these benefits requires a substantive policy change and we would therefore welcome the opportunity to work with Government to identify further opportunities to reform.

In this General Election year, we will challenge our political leaders to commit  to making the UK the most active nation in Europe – and in doing so generate £1bn healthcare savings and a GDP uplift of £3.6bn a year.

Now is the time to take the necessary steps to make that happen, in the long-term interests of the country.  

About the National Sector Partners Group 

The NSPG is formed of: 

  • Active Partnerships 
  • The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) 
  • The Sport for Development Coalition 
  • The Sport and Recreation Alliance 
  • ukactive 
  • The Youth Sport Trust. 

Through our collaborative work as sector partners, we aim to engage decision makers to improve the operating landscape for the sector and embed sport, recreation and physical activity as a key contributor to wider public policy objectives. 

As part of wider work through the National Sector Partners Group (NSPG), in 2022 we published Unlocking the Potential which sets out how sport, recreation and physical activity can be integral to successfully delivering a number of key Government priorities including Levelling Up, driving economic growth, achieving Net Zero and supporting the NHS. The report also proposes a range of systemic interventions including access to investment, tax and regulatory changes and wider policy reform which the coalition believes are key to maximising this role. 

Published on 7 March 2024