Sport England is diverting £250m worth of funding in order to help people living in the country’s 100 most socially deprived areas get more active.
The move – which Sport England described as “major and unprecedented” – will see quarter of a billion pounds being redirected towards areas with the worst levels of physical inactivity over the next five years.
In essence, the announcement marks an expansion of the agency’s current Place Partnerships work. Over the past five years, Sport England has run and evaluated a number of local delivery pilots, while committing to a longer-term investment in the network of 43 Active Partnerships.
The community-led model aims for targeted action that is built on insights specific for each area.
The model, Sport England says, has delivered positive results, leading to an expansion in the number of places that it will work with in this way.
Of the £250m of redirected funding, £190m will be ring fenced to help an additional 80-100 places which have deemed to have the greatest need.
An additional £35m will be invested to strengthen work with Sport England’s existing place partnerships, with a further £25m being made available to create a Universal Offer of key tools and resources, ensuring every area of England can access support.
Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England CEO, said: ”Access to sport and physical activity in England is still not close to being a level playing field.
“Where a person lives and the environment around them has a huge impact on how likely they are to be physically active. Too often, people in low-income communities don’t have access to the same facilities or opportunities as wealthier areas.
“This is manifestly unfair – and must be addressed as a real priority. That is why our expanded Place Partnership programme will unashamedly see us target our resources and efforts on communities that need the greatest levels of support and experience the greatest levels of inequality.
“We will invest most in those that need it most so that everyone has an equal chance to access the very real benefits of playing sport and be physically active.”