The UK government has launched its long-awaited new sports strategy, setting out a blueprint to improve the nation’s health and fitness.
At the heart of the strategy is a target of getting an additional 3.5 million people physically active by 2030. The new participation targets – to have over 2.5 million more active adults and over 1 million more active children by 2030 – are intended to reach people of all ages and backgrounds, and meet the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidance (150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week for adults and 60 minutes a day for children).
Called Get Active: A strategy for the future of sport and physical activity, the strategy arrives as figures from the Sport England Active Lives Survey indicate that 25% of adults are currently deemed to be ‘inactive’ in England, with over 11 million doing less than 30 minutes of activity in total a week. Data also indicates that 53% of children and young people are not meeting the CMO’s guidance of at least 60 minutes of activity a day – with 23% being fairly active, but 30% doing less than 30 minutes a day.
It is the first sport strategy to be published since 2015, and looks to build on the government’s investment of almost £400 million in grassroots facilities, including in multi-sport facilities, swimming pools and park tennis courts.
This is alongside investment of over £600 million for school sport and PE over the next two years, with a focus on making it clear that girls have the same access as boys.
The strategy also includes plans to ensure that the sector moves towards a more sustainable future, both financially and environmentally.
These include the DCMS seeking to attract “additional forms of investment” to help the sector continue to grow and thrive, including new sports and areas with significant growth potential, such as women’s sport.
The department will also highlight best practice, examples of good governance, and work with the tech sector to identify innovative solutions to help increase participation and physical activity.
Responding to the strategy, Sport England CEO, Tim Hollingsworth, said: “The government’s new sport strategy, with its strong focus on increasing participation and ensuring sport and physical activity is accessible to everyone regardless of background or postcode, is hugely welcome and comes at an important time for our sector.
“It is a highly ambitious document that clearly understands the role activity can play in the health and wellbeing of our nation, and how sport can be a force for good by reducing pressures on the NHS, improving educational attainment and bringing our communities together.
“The new strategy places significant importance on tackling inequalities, which ties in well with Uniting the Movement, our own long-term commitment to ensuring everyone, no matter their circumstances, has the chance to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being active.
“We welcome the inclusion of ambitious overall targets for participation, and the acknowledgement that no single organisation can deliver the scale of change needed. Instead, this strategy will require significant and sustained commitment across the public and private sector.
“The recognition that a new, cross-government focus to better coordinate departments is key to unlocking these benefits is also welcome, as is the commitment to strengthening integrity in sport and the determination in particular to ensure welfare and safeguarding issues are dealt with and best practice promoted.
“Some serious consideration of reform is vital; especially given the high-profile examples and challenges we have seen across multiple sports in recent years. Working through all the options must be a priority now if we are to ensure that sport is a safe and welcoming environment for all.
“We welcomed the opportunity to work closely with the government on the creation of this strategy and will be equally committed now alongside our partners to helping to bring its ambitions to life.”