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MPs call on the Government to launch a nationwide campaign to get children active again

29 July 2021

The Government must renew efforts to get people exercising, concludes a Report by the DCMS Committee, after indications that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused weight gain and a fall in activity levels in children.

MPs say data from Sport England which showed 100,000 fewer children met the recommended level of activity in 2020 than in 2019 is ‘of significant concern’. The DCMS Committee’s Report into Sport in our communities recommends the Government launch a sports equivalent to the 5 A Day campaign before the end of the year to educate children on the 60 minutes of activity per day recommended by the Chief Medical Officer. The Report warns of the yet unknown impact of the third lockdown on people’s fitness and urges the Government and Sport England to pre-empt consequences with a ‘Work Out to Help Out’ campaign.

MPs heard how the Covid-19 pandemic left grassroots sports finances in a ‘precarious’ situation, with several clubs at serious risk of closing. Witnesses told the inquiry that the pre-existing ‘facilities crisis’ and lack of financial reserves were compounded with the impacts of the pandemic such as a declining membership, volunteer workforce and loss of important venue hire revenue. To ensure the long-term survival of the sector, MPs call for the Government, Sport England, UK Sport and the National Lottery to revise funding models to enable accumulation of greater reserves.

The Report’s Annexe describes discussions held with local sports clubs on their experiences and concerns when pandemic restrictions shut down clubs and halted competitive sport. One concern expressed was that young people who may have had the ability to compete at elite level “may fall through the gaps and miss out”.

Chair's comments

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:

“This last 18 months has left the already perilous finances of grassroots sport in tatters.

“Community sports clubs nurture Olympic medallists and bring joy to people young and old, we cannot let them go to the wall. That is why delays to support schemes such as the Community Ownership Fund are so disappointing and unhelpful.

“Today we’ve made recommendations to the Government on how to better protect the spaces we exercise in and put grassroots sport on a more sustainable financial footing.

“The Government must also play its part in getting people active again following the pandemic or risk consequences for public health in the future.”

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