Government’s lack of vision risks squandering lasting benefits to UK of hosting major events, MPs say
16 March 2022
The UK is failing to fully capitalise on the opportunities and benefits of hosting major cultural and sporting events because of a lack of overall vision and direction from the Government, MPs say today.
A report from the DCMS Committee cites this year’s forthcoming Unboxed: Creativity in the UK festival as a prime example of a major event where aims are ‘vague and ripe for misinterpretation’. The £120million investment in the festival – an eight-month long celebration of creativity following the UK’s exit from the EU – is ‘an irresponsible use of public money’ given the Government’s own admission that it does not know what it is for, with the Committee warning that it is ‘far from clear’ that it will deliver a return on investment.
The report also highlights the case of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. It concludes that while it presents a great opportunity for the people of the West Midlands, there has not been sufficient priority given to legacy funding and long-term evaluation.
The Committee calls on the Government to be clear about what it is trying to achieve through major events and how they fit with wider policy priorities, and then to embed that vision through long-term planning and resourcing.
The report also calls for guaranteed funding for UK City of Culture hosts and warns that the Government must establish an independent regulator for English football, as recommended by the fan-led review of football governance, before the campaign to host Euro 2028 begins.
DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said: “Despite the UK having a strong reputation on the world stage as a leading host of sporting and cultural events, there is no golden thread linking them all together. Unless the Government urgently addresses this lack of strategy and vision, it will continue to risk squandering the benefits such occasions can bring, while wasting the hard-earned money of taxpayers.
The Unboxed festival acts as a prime illustration of an event with aims that have been vague from the start. That it took three years to come up with a rather nebulous name, which will mean little to the few that are even aware of its existence, does not bode well for its chances of delivering a true lasting legacy.
How this questionable example of planning is playing out should act as wake-up call for the Government. Such a muddled approach is a sure-fire recipe for failure and we have no confidence that it can meet its ambitious targets for engagement or deliver a return on the substantial investment from the public coffers.”
- Within the next two years, DCMS should work with industry to develop and publish a strategy for hosting the full scope of major events.
- The Government should guarantee successful hosts of UK City of 15 Culture an appropriate amount of national funding from the outset, rather than require the host to wait for a decision, to enable organisers to focus their efforts on securing other sources of funding.
- The Government must ensure implementation of the fan-led review of football governance’s principal recommendation, the establishment of the independent regulator for English football in legislation, is completed by the time the campaign to host the 2028 competition begins in earnest.
- The Government must be clear about what it is trying to achieve through major events and how they fit with wider policy priorities, and then to embed that vision through long-term planning and resourcing.
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