Select Committee on a National Plan for Sport and Recreation
Wednesday 9 December 2020
Members present: Lord Willis of Knaresborough (The Chair); Lord Addington; Baroness Blower; Baroness Brady; Baroness Grey-Thompson; Lord Hayward; Lord Knight of Weymouth; Lord Krebs; Baroness Morris of Yardley; Lord Moynihan; Baroness Sater; Lord Snape.
Evidence Session No. 2 Virtual Proceeding Questions 12 – 19
I: Huw Edwards, Chief Executive Officer, ukactive; Andy Reed OBE, Co-Founder and Director, Sports Think Tank; Lisa Wainwright, Chief Executive Officer, Sport and Recreation Alliance.
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and webcast on www.parliamentlive.tv.
Huw Edwards, Andy Reed and Lisa Wainwright.
Q12 The Chair: Good afternoon, everyone. I welcome our three witnesses to this inquiry. Huw Edwards is CEO of ukactive. Andy Reed OBE is co‑founder and director of the Sports Think Tank. It is very nice to see you again, Andy, after all these years; I hope you are more amenable than the last time you spoke to me. Lisa Wainwright is the CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance. We have three excellent witnesses this afternoon.
A transcript of the meeting will be taken and published on the Committee website. Witnesses will have the opportunity to make corrections to that transcript where necessary.
This is the second evidence session of the Committee. Members of the Committee who have not yet spoken will declare interests; a couple of them still have to do that. When asking a question, Members will specify the first witness they would like to hear from, and we will bring in the other witnesses as necessary.
I will address this first to you, Huw, but I would like all the witnesses to make a contribution. A starting point for the inquiry was the 2015 government document Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation, although we are struck by how familiar the 1960 Wolfenden report remains. Given the strategy’s high ambitions, which this Committee certainly supports, how do you rate the Government’s efforts to get more people living a healthier and more active lifestyle? Quite simply, has the strategy been a success?
Secondly, given your organisation’s vision statement, a key to making the strategy a success was to get buy‑in across government and to ensure that the two delivery platforms, Sport England and UK Sport, worked effectively with partners, particularly at grass‑roots level. Has that happened and, if not, what more could government do to make it happen?
Huw Edwards: Good afternoon, everybody. There has been success from Sporting Future—namely, the decision by Tracey Crouch, then Sports Minister, to transform how sport and physical activity was valued in the funding that was given from government and wider partners in society. It was transforming the value proposition of what was deemed success as opposed to just numbers.
The follow‑up strategy from Sport England, Towards an Active Nation, has generated greater collaboration between the NGBs—Lisa will speak to that in more detail—and the fitness and leisure sector. Going into Covid, there were the green shoots of success in activity in the nation, while there were, and remain, some underlying challenges. That said, the impact of Covid has had a transformative impact on all sectors. What is needed now is a brand-new vision and strategy, not just from Sport England and UK Sport, but from the Government, to think about how we can reset some of the challenges that we still face.
There is a need for the nation to become more active. The economic, social, health and mental well-being benefits of activity are evidenced in many pieces of work. Coming out of this crisis, there is a chance to provide a much bolder ambition and to set a vision for the next decade, in which we try to make ourselves the most active nation in the world. That will be supported by the work that UK Sport, especially Sport England, provides, with a new strategy coming from Sport England very soon. That will need to build on deepening collaboration across the whole spectrum of the sport and physical activity sector to succeed.
The Chair: For it to succeed, you need not simply a strategy but, through the delivery partners, the ability to bring together different departments of government, and indeed to connect them to the highest or lowest points in the participants. I do not see that happening.
Huw Edwards: That is a very fair point, Lord Willis. Credit to DCMS, as the sponsor department, from all of us giving evidence, but there are limitations on what it can deliver within its remit. It requires cross‑departmental support to deliver a rise in activity across society. It cannot be under the auspices of one department. It needs to be cross‑departmental. My team will spend as much time with DCMS as it will with many other departments—the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Education, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, Defra, MHCLG and BEIS.
To deliver and evolve effectively, an active nation requires a sense of ambition to make us the most active nation in the world, followed by cross‑departmental ownership at the heart of the decision‑making process, which is ultimately No. 10. We can only do so much, within current parameters, on impact, value and ambition. It is ultimately down to the ambition of the Government and what they want to deliver from an active nation in the form of health and economic benefits.
The Chair: Are you saying that it is not ambitious enough?
Huw Edwards: There is a real opportunity coming out of this crisis. The vaccination is incredible news, but it will not address the deep and stark health inequalities that we face, which run like a fault line through many communities across the country. Activity is not the panacea, but it can contribute to alleviating some of those challenges.
We need boldness of vision and ambition from the top to say that we will make this nation the most active in the world by the end of this decade. We know from all the evidence that making the nation more active will improve the physical, mental and social well‑being of millions, and will provide an incredible economic return for the Government. It is a win-win situation to prioritise activity in this nation and to look at it in a way that perhaps successive Governments have not done up to this point.
The Chair: Lisa, I am struggling. Nobody would disagree with what Huw has just said, but there is a difference between that and it actually working out on the ground. Where is that connection? Why is it not right at the moment, and what could we do to improve it?
Lisa Wainwright: Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to give evidence today on behalf of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
I think we are all agreed that Sporting Future is a positive statement of intent across government departments and was great work from Tracey. I am sure we all send our best regards to her for her recovery from breast cancer.
To answer your question on some of the positives that came through from Sporting Future, there has been a significant change in the last four years in the governance of governing bodies in particular, and organisations in receipt of funds, through the sports governance code. There has been real drive and change at that level, particularly across the 84 funded members of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
You are right that there has been a lack of joined‑up approach. In 2017, for example, there were cuts of £350 million in the DfE budget earmarked for sport and healthy lifestyles in the core schools budget. It cannot be right, when we are looking at a school sport and physical activity action plan, that we take a significant amount of funding out of the core budget for this purpose.
For me, the principles and policies are right; it is the application and delivery that is often missed. I do not think that is by intent. It is about the pace at which government departments have been working more recently.
As regards accountability on the strategies and policies that we put forward, particularly on Sporting Future, I am not aware that an annual report has been published. It is important for both Government and Parliament to be held to account on that. That also relates to Select Committees, particularly those looking at policy and the delivery of policy. A number of Select Committees talk about football and rugby, which is fantastic, but we want to talk about the whole sector.
Finally, as you alluded to, there are challenges where cross-departmental collaboration is required—one example being the school sport and physical activity action plan, with the three government departments of health, education and sport. Who is the fundamental accountable leader on that? That is where we can hold people to account, rather than having a collaborative approach, which often may not get delivered purely because there is no lead organisation. One of the challenges for the new strategy is identifying who the actual lead will be for the policy.
For me, Sport England’s work on Towards an Active Nation took a very different tack and was a move from sports for sport’s sake, which many of us were familiar with, to a much broader five‑outcomes approach. It has started to make that change. There are local delivery pilots, which we are not involved in, as we are a national organisation. Evidence from those pilots is that the strategy is starting to make changes at local level, notwithstanding Covid, in tackling the stubborn inequalities that we all wish to change.
Baroness Blower: We want to make this the most active nation in the world and that does not—[Inaudible.]
The Chair: We are losing you, Baroness Blower. We will move on to Lord Krebs.
Baroness Blower: [Inaudible.] I do not think the most active nation in the world is the best target.
Q13 Lord Krebs: Huw, thank you very much for your introduction. I want to ask about the successes of the strategy since 2015. A lot of what I have heard from you, and so far altogether, has been about process—improving the performance of governing bodies and so on. I am interested in outcomes. You referred to some green shoots before Covid. If you had to point to the areas where we have actually achieved an increase in physical activity among the wider population, and the areas where we have failed, what would you highlight as the big success story and the big failure story?
Huw Edwards: The work that Sport England has done with its partners, off the back of Towards an Active Nation, has broadened a number of the levers of engagement. The core membership that I represent is from the fitness and leisure sector, which has become much more integrated in the Sport England plans than at any point historically between the sector and that organisation.
Lord Krebs: I am sorry to interrupt, but that is a process answer. Leisure centres have become more integrated, and that is fine. I am asking about outcomes. Are a greater proportion of the population now going to fitness centres and sticking with it? Is that one of the success stories?
Huw Edwards: You will see from the last Active Lives survey to report prior to the Covid crisis that, in the context of fitness, swimming and activities, 17.1 million people were hitting the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation of 150 minutes of activity per week. Reporting from Sport England’s Active Lives survey showed an upwards turn in activity prior to Covid, while there remained entrenched challenges in relation to disability, and gaps in relation to gender and black, Asian and minority ethnic engagement. Sport England was going deeper into looking at those strategies; Lisa mentioned the local delivery pilots. There was some progress towards the second half of that. We recognise in this crisis that there has been a major impact on activity levels. We need a reset and we need to look at our ambition, given that the crisis has exposed deep health inequalities.
The Chair: Andy, you can respond to my first question, but, specifically, could I ask you about the impact of your review of the 2016 County Sports Partnerships? Are Active Partnerships, their successor, effective? I cannot find any metrics to measure success, which follows on from what Lord Krebs has just been talking about.
Andy Reed: It is good to see you again, Lord Willis, and good to see a number of colleagues here.
On your bigger picture question, you are right that since 2015 Sporting Future has started to make an impact, but we have to put it into perspective. You referred to the Wolfenden reports, and we referred to a number of others from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. We are looking at a nation that has designed physical activity out of its system over a 30-year or 40‑year period. In a sense, Sporting Future changed the emphasis away from counting participation in sport and activity—the Active People survey and just looking at the number of people who were participating in NGBs—and shifted it to the wider measure of activity that we probably all agree is the right one.
To be fair to Sporting Future, 2015 to 2020 is a five-year period, and shifting that enormous tanker around in such a short time is quite difficult, as many of you know, having served in government.
Going back to Lord Krebs’s point, there are a few green shoots—very few. There has been a slight increase in the levels of activity, the 17.1 million that Huw referred to, even among some of the difficult groups to shift; disability, in particular, is probably the least active of those groups. If we look at BAME, gender and lower socioeconomic groups, disability was the most affected group as regards levels of activity. It was only minor, but we were starting to see a slight increase in those numbers ahead of Covid. Ironically, Covid has meant that that group is now the most disadvantaged again and has probably been hit hardest in this period.
There were some green shoots, and it links a little to my review of the County Sports Partnerships, which are now Active Partnerships. I have been speaking to a lot of colleagues over the last few days knowing that we were coming here today, including the chief executive of Sport England. They recognised that their role had to change. It is exactly what Huw and Lisa have been saying: we have had a shift away from national governing bodies delivering levels of activity. There is recognition that people’s lives and the way we behave have changed. Quite a lot of the work they do is not just delivering pilots or programmes on behalf of Sport England, but what we call whole system change: creating an ecosystem at a local level to build physical activity back into our daily lives.
To be fair to Sport England and UK Sport, their total budget is just under £500 million; about £300 million is spent by Sport England and £179 million by UK Sport. That was the annual turnover of Liverpool Football Club in the same year last year. We are asking Sport England to fundamentally shift 40 years of physical inactivity in a five‑year period with a budget that is the same as Liverpool putting a football team together. It is not exactly the same measurement, but you can see the impact; it is very difficult to suggest that the total outcome would be a massive shift.
What it needs, exactly as both Huw and Lisa have said, is genuine buy‑in across government, and real leadership. As everyone here knows, the times when we have made real progress in sport and physical activity have been when there has been real leadership from No. 10. As many of you know, I decided to go to the Treasury, having spent a lot of time in DCMS and Defra, and I came to understand that when the Treasury gets behind it we start to deliver.
Fundamentally for us, it is trying to make the case. We talk in an echo chamber among ourselves about the ability to deliver sport and physical activity, mental well‑being and all those positive outcomes, but we have to convince the Treasury at the end of the day to release the funds to make it possible. Compared with a national government budget, £500 million is not a lot to spend on sport and physical activity. The real wins will come by unlocking the budgets of other departments and shifting the emphasis of what they deliver.
The biggest change would be an increase in walking and cycling, active environments and active travel. That would make a much more substantial difference to the work of getting the nation active. Baroness Blower, I know what you mean about the measurement of making Britain the most active nation in the world. We need a bit of ambition, and I back up Huw on the suggestion that that is what the strategy does, but it needs all those departments and leadership to do it. I wrote down, to paraphrase our former leader, “Delivery, delivery, delivery”. The words are all in place and we have all the plans and policies in place; it now needs concentrated and concerted effort to deliver on the plans that are in existence, with the budgets to follow them, to make the difference we all want to see.
The Chair: That was a very upbeat response and leads us to Baroness Sater, who wants to pick up the issue of finance.
Q14 Baroness Sater: Picking up on that point, are the public funding structures to support the delivery of sport and recreation fit for purpose? What principles should underpin public funding for sport and recreation?
Lisa Wainwright: The current principles that sit behind the funding, the seven investment principles, are absolutely sound. What we have not had in recent years is a targeted approach to that investment at local level, but I know that the Sport England strategy is looking to change that. You will hear Tim talk about proportionate universalism, and that is the one thing he is really keen to do, to make sure that the services get to the right degree of need.
To go back to your question about whether they are fit for purpose, there are a myriad of different approaches now. There is national funding to the national partners and national governing bodies, which works incredibly well. There is the local funding that comes through the Active Partnerships, as Andy said. There are also lots of different open funds that people can apply to, as many of you will know.
There is a challenge. If you are in the system, you know how the system works. There are many sports that have accessed lots of money through Sport England for many years, but 70% of our members are unfunded. That might mean that they are not meeting the criteria or that the process is not right. Are they fit for purpose? They are better than they were because different levels of funding are coming to different elements of the sector, but there is a piece of work, and Sport England is aware of it, on how we get to the so‑called hard‑to‑reach areas that cannot access funding and have never been able to access funding. They are organisations under the slightly different hat that Andy wears, the Sport for Development Coalition: StreetGames, Greenhouse Sports and others.
How do we get to the people who have no clue what Sport England is but can make a huge change to people’s lives through physical activity and sport? The principles are right, but need to be more agile than they have been, although I have to say that in the last year, during Covid, Sport England has been more agile than I have known it to be in 30 years and has really responded well as regards its funding.
Baroness Sater: Local authority funding is discretionary. What are your thoughts on putting it on a statutory footing?
Lisa Wainwright: It is absolutely a requirement to do so. We know from the Local Government Association that over the last 10 years, as you may know, there has been a 45% fall in revenues to culture, which includes sport and leisure. We cannot have £260 million going in through Sport England at one end and, at local level, facilities closing and community clubs not being able to access those facilities. It does not make sense. For me, it is key for that to be a statutory requirement in sport and physical activity, similar to many other countries—for example, Denmark.
Huw Edwards: I reinforce what Lisa said, especially on the principles and the funding. Baroness Sater, on your point about its being statutory, I would say yes, but it comes with caveats. Libraries are statutory, but they face great challenges at local level. If you are looking at public leisure facilities, local authority leisure facilities, the most important thing, especially with the funding that has been agreed from Treasury—the £100 million recovery fund—is that that is complemented by a revision of what those facilities actually provide their local community. They provide multi-sports facilities, swimming pools and gym space. They also provide 66% of the rehab and pre‑hab treatment for cancer patients. There is a need to redefine what those facilities are providing in their local communities. Public leisure is probably an outdated definition for what those facilities provide. It is very important in how we work with the LGA, government and providers to redefine what they are.
It is not always about the funding the sector provides. From my side, especially from a number of public and private operators, a lot of it is about improved support for the operating landscape. There are VAT and business rate issues, and rent arrears, especially in this crisis, and incentivisations.
There is a lot the Government can do across the levers of taxation and regulation to drive activity levels—for example, high street regulations. The two fastest drivers of high streets in the last two years have been fast food and gyms. Which would we like to prioritise? It is easier to open a chicken shop than it is to open a gym. The anchor for the future of our high streets can be built around fitness and activity, as much as many other areas. It is another perspective; you can look at regulation, taxation and incentivisation in a way that is quite creative and can support the growth of activity across the whole sector.
Andy Reed: It is a really good question. I have highlighted specifically Sport England and UK Sport funding, and, as Lisa has just indicated, quite a lot goes through the Active Partnerships and into local communities. The systems for that are well rehearsed. I think you will find in the new Sport England strategy quite a shift from a B2C to more of a B2B format. It will be supporting organisations to capacity build. Again, it comes back to the fact that £500 million is not a lot to do what is required of us as a nation. Therefore, can we use that money in a better way?
It is the same in some of the other areas. People have alluded to them already, and I will come back to the point about statutory responsibility. Most of the other money in the sport and physical activity sector goes through other departments, such as local government. It used to be about £1.6 billion. We estimate that it is down to £1 billion or just below, so, over the last decade, some £600 million has been lost to the sector as a consequence. Those are LGA figures. Even small increases in Sport England’s budget are far outweighed by the changes elsewhere.
I know Baroness Morris takes an interest in this. The sugar tax and the money that has gone into the primary school premium for physical activity has been welcome, but we would suggest from a Sports Think Tank point of view that it again goes back to delivery. It probably does not need an enormous amount of extra money, but given the amount that is going in, there could be a much more effective way of using those resources. As a sports activity sector, we will not always demand extra money. It would be lovely, but we understand the circumstances at the moment.
As Huw has just said, of the £22 billion‑worth of input to the £75 billion or £80 billion we say we get on social return, only about 11% comes from the public purse. It leverages a lot of individual members who pay their gym membership, join sports clubs or are able to raise revenue through other commercial activities. It is a pretty tough environment out there if you are not in the top tier.
I am a vice‑president of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, and, of our 300‑odd members, only 40 or 50 or so are funded in any way through formal mechanisms. There are lots of sports out there that receive no formal money from Sport England or UK Sport in any way and have to make ends meet. I also chair the Sport for Development Coalition, to put in a plug.
Given the stubborn inequalities we all keep referring to, we would say that, if any new money is coming into the sector through those bodies, it needs to be specifically targeted at the most disadvantaged groups that have been left behind over a generation. We would support that at the think tank, too. If we are going to make changes, they are the groups that are most vulnerable or have become so through Covid. You are 11 times more likely to die from it as a disabled woman than anybody else in the population. Clearly, there is a big link between health inequalities and Covid. If we are going to invest in the sector, it has to be targeted specifically at the disadvantaged groups in future, who will be the best to benefit from that. I think we would all agree. It is a tough environment.
Do the structures work? I think Sport England, as Lisa said, had a reputation for being slow and cumbersome. I would suggest that over this last period it has learned some new lessons, with due accountability for public money, about managing to get the money out of the door a lot quicker. Some of that has been using Active Partnerships. A lot of the Tackling Inequalities fund has been distributed at local level because they have local knowledge. Rather than somebody sitting in Bloomsbury Square or, dare I say, here in Loughborough at SportPark distributing grants from Sport England, they are distributed at local level, knowing the local level of community need.
Going back to the previous answer I gave, the real wins in tackling inequalities will come from the co‑creation of solutions at local level. Lisa referred to the local delivery pilots. We are all learning that we cannot just deliver national programmes from the top and hope they will work across the country. We have to engage communities at local level and build them up from the bottom. That is the way we will engage communities and start to change their levels of physical activity and sport. It is a difficult environment.
The Chair: We will come back to funding, I have no doubt, many times during this session. We want it to be a proactive look at funding rather than simply saying, “Give us more money”. You have all said that delivery is the key. I think we as a Committee are finding it quite frustrating that we are not seeing the metrics that link what is spent to what comes out at the other end. We have to get that better. Perhaps you would be kind enough or generous enough to give us written evidence in our call for evidence and give us some of the solutions you suggest. No matter how extreme they are, it is important that we have something to grab on to, rather than simply looking at where the problems are. I will leave that with you.
Q15 Lord Snape: For the record, I have no relevant interests to declare.
The Committee has heard previously that the top six activities for people are walking, running, gym and fitness, cycling, swimming and football. What are the implications for the sport and recreation sector if more people are exercising in informal ways, rather than through organised participation, a subject touched upon in an earlier exchange between Lord Krebs and Mr Edwards? Perhaps, Mr Edwards, you could amplify and expand what you said earlier.
Huw Edwards: All activity and all exercise is good. You have seen from the Sport England Active Lives survey that walking—casual walking, walking to work—is at the top. I know from the work of my own sector that fitness and swimming are very high up. The relationship between informal and formal can be developed, and partnerships developed, and especially facilitated and supported by Sport England, because we want to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to be active in a way they want.
A good example is the work that ukactive is doing with NHS England and the National Academy for Social Prescribing on the offer of 500,000 hours to NHS England to support patients. Those patients might not necessarily always want to be on the gym floor. They may use the facilities to be part of a walking group or a wider activation that will support their physical and mental well‑being. There is the opportunity to collaborate, which will be to the benefit of communities across the country, especially parts of society and cohorts where we face more entrenched inactivity challenges. I would fully support the adaptability of the sector to support that. My members would fully support strengthening of the collaboration between traditional sport and fitness and leisure.
Lord Snape: Voluntary participation is hard to measure. What, in your opinion, is the impact of such activities on organised sport in general? I am thinking of membership and participation levels at local sports clubs, gyms and so on. Has there been an impact, adverse or otherwise, on organised membership?
Huw Edwards: I might defer part of that to Lisa from the Sport and Recreation Alliance. From my side, the offer and proposition for customers on fitness and leisure has evolved over time. There is greater adaptability across different price points and access points going into the sector: pay and play, or pay and pitch up at certain points. There is flexibility of proposition and offer, which is adapted according to customer needs. As we know from the Active Lives survey, swimming and fitness, especially combined, are very much strong drivers of activity in the country at the moment.
Lisa Wainwright: Can I add to that in relation to our members? Informal participation and traditional organised sport are complementary. In some of the programmes on walking where Sport England has partnered with Age UK, there has been a direct link to walking football and walking netball. That moves into their membership.
The other piece of work is looking at activities people want to take part in as a first step. Fifteen years ago—I cannot believe I am saying this—something called parkrun started. There are now 5 million people informally enjoying activity in their local community and volunteering. That has not distracted from England Athletics in any way. In fact, it has been embraced in how they operate with each other. There is a place within an active nation for people to take part in informal sport. There is also a huge space for traditional and more organised sport.
Lord Knight of Weymouth: Andy, you talked about the £500 million to UK Sport and Sport England. Is the clue in the title? They both talk about sport. If we want to increase participation and activity, is the instinct to put more money into parks because that is where we are going to activate more of our target groups? In their case, they are all about sport, so they are just going to go after organised sport, are they not?
Andy Reed: Thank you, Lord Knight; that always seems strange to say.
In a way, that is where the debate is. I throw that back to the group; it is something we have been wrestling with. Fundamentally, what do we want to achieve? What is the big picture? As you know, New Zealand has moved to the concept of a well‑being budget. Everything aligns around four or five measures of well‑being in almost every government department, including sport.
What we have drifted towards with a Sporting Future is a period where we funded national governing bodies for sport. It was Sport England and it was what it said on the tin. That has shifted, particularly in my time over the last 20 years, and moved more into dealing with physical activity rather than sport for its own sake. The title does not really indicate what is currently happening at Sport England and the work it is doing.
I did not fully answer Lord Willis’s question about Active Partnerships. The main piece there was that, as they stood as County Sports Partnerships, none of the title reflected what they were doing. They were not coterminous with counties. They were not just about sport and they needed to be a lot more about partnership. The move to Active Partnerships is probably where Sport England’s title needs to move. It is trying to get an active nation. It includes the 15 million or 16 million people who go to gyms and the 12 million or 15 million people who take part in sport. As Lord Snape has just indicated, there is more informal sport. Even if we reach all those, we have still not reached about 30 million or 40 million of the population in those sectors, and we need to get them active.
With the Sport England strategy, there is a shift towards capacity building and using its influence, as I suggested earlier, perhaps to change the way the Department for Transport builds cycling back into its routes. We have to do that at local level as well. We have to build physical activity into new housing developments. We are working quite a lot with other people, as I am sure you all are, on the concept of the 15‑minute or 20‑minute neighbourhood. If you can walk to most of your local facilities and access most things within a 15‑minute walk, it fundamentally changes the way we live our lives and will build in the levels of physical activity we would like to see.
We have been wrestling with the question of when sport finishes for its own sake. Where does the leisure sector fit in, and how do we create an ecosystem and a whole systems approach for tackling the 30 million to 40 million people who will probably never touch our services but who we need to get physically active? That is where I think Sport England is increasingly trying to find itself.
You are right about the UK Sport title. It is fairly tight and it does what it says on the tin, but I think it is possible to have both a physical activity agenda across government and a very specific elite sports programme, as long as you understand that that is where you want to invest, and the soft power that comes from that and other pieces.
You are right that the title is slightly misleading. The problem that throws back to us all in the sector is how far we want to reach out with sport and recreation. Is it sport, recreation, physical activity or even movement? How far down the movement strain do we want to go? I would suggest that our role is to use our expertise to get the 30 million people moving, and influence other parts of government to use our expertise to help other parts of the population, who will never join a club or a gym, and get them physically active.
The Chair: I am trying to bring one or two more members of the Committee in. Could we be brief in questions and in answers?
Q16 Lord Hayward: May I follow on the discussion about walking, running and the like? I live in inner south London, in Southwark. There is a large parkrun every Saturday. It is overwhelmingly white, in a community that is overwhelmingly BAME. Do we believe any of the figures we are given in relation to any form of recreation? Is it not really that the communities to which you have been referring are worse off than the figures actually show?
Andy Reed: It is good to see you again, Lord Hayward.
The Active Lives survey is pretty robust as regards gathering data, but you are right that it only shows the headlines. From the figures, we see that 62% of all adults, 56% of black people and 51% of Asian people are active. When you break down some of those groups, such as the figure that 56% of black people are active, you find that they are not all active in the same place. You need to break it down. You have probably seen the Sporting Equals debate at the moment about the term BAME. Even in the BAME grouping, there is a whole series of different levels of participation; among the Chinese community, it is quite low. It is complicated and it needs to be broken down. I would be more than happy to send some additional figures that show that.
You are right that some sports are predominantly white and male and middle class. We are doing some work with State of Life on boxing and basketball, where BAME participation is much higher. We can provide you with some figures on effectiveness and impact. It varies enormously. You need to take a level of sophistication to the figures to see where people are participating. The crucial thing is that, even if they are participating, the figures for leadership, coaching and volunteering are horrendously low for the BAME community. As a proportion of the population, participation is slightly higher among the BAME community, but in all the other strands it is woefully inadequate. Only 5% of board members are BAME across the national governing bodies.
Baroness Morris of Yardley: Carrying on the same line of thought, I think the juxtaposition of formal sports and informal activity is really interesting. There is the whole issue of, “They don’t know we’re counting them”, sort of thing, and it is as if there are two groups. We will perhaps look at that later.
A lot of people say, for whatever reason, that they do not like sport and they are not going to do it. They are probably in the group that is doing informal exercise. Does their perception of what they are doing matter? Is it an issue? Would it be easier to move them on if they realised that their everyday activity counted for something? Some of them are doing exercise but saying, “No, I want nothing to do with sport”. There is a brick wall that might be one of perception, and knocking it down might help us a bit. I am trying to think of it from the participants’ point of view rather than the organisations. Lisa, do you want to come in on that first?
Lisa Wainwright: Absolutely. I will pick up on one of the questions Lord Krebs asked.
The Chair: As briefly as you can, Lisa.
Lisa Wainwright: This Girl Can was a major campaign that was integrated across the whole sector. Every governing body got involved. It was a big campaign. Some 70% of woman aged 14 to 40 saw the campaign and 2.8 million women of that age group got more active. They would never call themselves sporty—ever, ever, ever. It does not matter as long as they are active and benefiting from being active.
Picking up Lord Hayward’s point—happy Rainbow Laces Day to Lord Hayward and all of you—we need an absolute focus moving forwards on diverse communities. It was an incredibly successful campaign. We know how that can work. Let us work with people in communities to get the messaging appropriate and then start to grow it. For me that is exciting. That model has been proved to work through this system. Now let us put it to the people who need it the most.
The Chair: We look forward to getting some written evidence on that, because I think it is very useful.
Q17 Baroness Brady: I need to declare an additional interest. I am patron of the National Citizen Service.
The Committee has received lots of reports that highlight the lack of diversity in both the workforce and the governance of sport. We would be interested to hear what you think can be done to make it more diverse and inclusive and ensure that there are development and career opportunities for all. Lisa, would you like to start?
Lisa Wainwright: Thank you, Baroness Brady. It is good to see you again from my Sport England days.
A key thing that has been very positive over the last few years is that within the governance code there was a requirement for 30% of boards to be women. Currently, there are 40% of women on boards, which is a great outcome. It is not gender parity, but it is a great outcome. Sometimes, quotas make a difference, and I think we need a debate on the review of the code in relation to BAME diverse communities and people on boards.
One of the challenges with the sector, when you are coming through the pipeline from a workforce perspective, is knowing the network. There have been some pilots with Perrett Laver and Sporting Equals, bringing through a pipeline of directors who have the skills and knowledge to be a director within the sector but who would never have had access to it because they did not know the right network.
I am delighted to say that we have been part of that as the Sport and Recreation Alliance. Two of the graduates from Perrett Laver are now on an international working group with us at the alliance, and a number of them have roles on boards. The pipeline and the support are critical. The network is still a close family in many ways, and it is absolutely critical to change it at board level and down, from the executive to the staffing level.
In relation to the wider workforce, volunteers and looking at that part of things, we have to be seen to believe that we can. If we do not see people like us in those positions, it is unlikely that we will take the steps to do so. For me, it is about ensuring that there is a pipeline for coaches and referees from different backgrounds, and to profile them so that young people coming forward know that those opportunities exist for them, and then providing that pathway.
Baroness Brady: That is all good advice. If Huw or Andy have anything to add, we would love to hear it.
Huw Edwards: From my side, I would reinforce what Lisa said. The members of ukactive from the fitness and leisure sector want to ensure that their operations reflect the communities they work in. That starts with participation. Going back briefly to the conversation about participation, one in four members of gyms and leisure centres is from a black, Asian, minority ethnic background, which is considerably higher than the national average as regards representation. However, there is more to do, especially on the leadership. We are working very closely with the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity—CIMSPA—on areas of leadership, and supporting programmes that can bring greater diversity, whether it be gender, disability or ethnicity into the workforce, and into the leadership of the workforce.
Andy Reed: I totally support what has already been said, but it needs to go faster. We have been talking about this for some time. We know the problems and the pipeline is there. We need to work a lot harder. The new initiative with Sporting Equals and Perrett Laver on leadership is important, and has demonstrated, when we talk about the pipeline, that these people exist; they are just excluded. I recall Chris Grant saying at the launch of the original leader board, in which he was involved, that, in a sport that has only 4% of its board members from a BAME background, when participation rates, as Huw said, are 16% to 20%, people must have had to work really hard to keep people of BAME background off those boards. As a sector, we have worked really hard to do that.
As Lisa said, it comes from the start. The number of volunteers who come from a BAME background, for example, is really low, and it is the same with coaching and leadership in junior roles. It starts right at the heart of the sport and activity sector. We all need to take some responsibility for that. I assume that when the code of governance is changed it will suggest that we need quotas on boards. That is great because, as Lisa said, you need to see people like yourself.
In the sport for development sector, I know you are involved in the West Ham trust, Baroness Brady, and you know that people working out in communities are a lot more reflective in some of those areas. Huw and Lisa are both very supportive of the Sport for Development Coalition, and some of their partners are partners of both those organisations as well. We are all in this together to ensure, as I said before, that, if we co‑create from the community up, we can bring people through the system and hopefully into leadership roles in a shorter time than would happen if we just left it to chance. It is a responsibility for all of us to make our sports sector reflective of the society in which we live.
Q18 Lord Addington: Hello everyone, and hello everyone I have worked with over the years. Hello, Andy, my fly half and scrum half in the parliamentary rugby team.
My interests are as follows. I am a director and trustee of The Atlas Foundation, a charity that seeks to improve children’s lives in disadvantaged parts of the world. I am vice‑president of the UK Sports Association. I am former vice‑president of a small rugby club in Norfolk called Lakenham Hewett. I am secretary and a player in the Commons and Lords Rugby Club, which is an instituted club, and an all‑party group. I am a vice‑chair of the basketball, football, Commonwealth Games, Olympic and Paralympic all-party groups. I am a member of the rowing club and a vice‑chair of the All‑Party Group on Sport. I think that has covered most of it.
Lisa, how effective are the national governing bodies at delivering policy? How are we going to get them to work through that? Are they going down to local communities as well? How effective are they and where would you like them to improve? They are the establishment, if you like, and we have talked about how things are happening away from that.
Lisa Wainwright: I have fond memories of our basketball days, Lord Addington. Thank you for your support in the past years.
As I mentioned, we have 300 members, of which 84 are funded governing bodies: rugby, cricket, football, et cetera. There is a whole host of other members, and I know you are aware of them, in movement and dance and recreational activities.
As regards being fit for purpose, I think they have come a long way, as I mentioned before, in their governance. I think they are absolutely effective at delivering policy at local level. I can give you some examples. Over the last 20 years, a number of them have developed policies and procedures on safeguarding, and a lot of those policies are now delivered at club level. I am sure you will know that from your own rugby club having welfare officers and processes in place. Likewise across all sports—for example, swimming—clubs have procedures in place, because of the safeguarding policies, to make sure that the environment is safe for young people. Likewise with anti‑doping; it is exactly the same as for Olympic and Paralympic sports in that there is a policy that goes through the whole system.
There may be a time lag. It depends on whether there is a professional paid staffing structure, as many sports have, where you can make the policies come to life at local level, as opposed to an organisation trying to work through a volunteer network to implement the policy. I think it is more of a time lag than a lack of desire to implement policies. I have many examples of different policies from different sports that have been implemented at a local level.
Huw Edwards: The one thing from me would be the effectiveness of NGBs in delivery. From our membership base, especially from the public leisure side of our membership base, success for a number of NGBs is probably inextricably linked to the success of those facilities, especially indoor sports. There will be the opportunity to strengthen partnerships between the national governing bodies for sport and the wider fitness and leisure sector in the strategic utilisation of facilities to grow activity levels in individual sports. I am pretty agnostic as long as people move and are active. If we can achieve that, it is a success, and I am pretty agnostic about how they do it.
Andy Reed: It varies, if I am being honest. As Lisa said, there is an enormous scale of difference between the top four or five largely funded and commercial national governing bodies and a number at the tail that are literally run by a chief exec with a laptop on the kitchen table at the weekend. It is difficult to generalise.
It is all part of the ecosystem. As Huw said, we all want the different parts to succeed and work with each other. A lot of national governing bodies will use leisure facilities and school facilities. Only a minority will be asset‑owning clubs in the way we sometimes address them. Many of the 150,000 that we call sports clubs are in fact just teams. Probably our House of Commons and House of Lords rugby team counts as that. We have six or seven games a season. Are we a team or are we a club? It is very difficult for some of those clubs, with a limited number of volunteers who are under increasing stress and strain to do a lot of other things, properly to deliver policy at community level.
We need to make sure that we get the right people in the right place. That might mean working with the leisure sector or working with Sport for Development Coalition members and some of the other grass‑roots clubs. We have not talked a lot today about VCSE clubs—community clubs that deliver sport. It might be the local mosque that runs a luncheon club and a session. There are lots of people delivering the sport and physical activity agenda who are on the wider outer rings, not just the traditional national governing bodies. Many of them are interlinked. You would almost have to go through the list and mark them, which is possibly largely what happens with Sport England funding, against the criteria to see whether you thought they were effective or not. I would not want to generalise. There are many good NGBs, and there are some that we are all probably aware of that need additional work.
Lord Addington: We have talked about the informal sector a lot, but does anyone have any good examples of linkage between the formalised and the informal sector? Middle‑aged walkers and runners are often people who played sport more seriously in the early part of their lives. We have said that people who go walking might take up clever things like walking netball and walking football. It is the linkage between the two. They seem to be in silos, or people like to go into silos. Probably the people in front of us here do not allow that to happen, but that is definitely a defensive position I have experienced in the past. Does anyone have any good examples of that?
Huw Edwards: I think the opportunity is in the evolution of the utilisation of facilities. Looking at my membership, especially on the public leisure side, they are not seen as pure gym, sport or swimming; they have become wider community hubs, integrated hubs, which can be used both formally and informally. We are undertaking a consultation on active ageing, which is looking at how you can drive activity levels in older age. Part of that will come out no doubt on the marriage between informality and formality that works for the individual.
Andy Reed: I know we have a vested interest in this, but, in countries such as New Zealand, age groups beyond 35 who want to participate are embedded in the system. Lots of people run older basketball groups and rugby groups. In another hour and a half, I will be off to touch rugby. I will probably be the oldest person there, but I have a welcoming club. It is possible still to do these things, but it needs a little more effort. Because clubs are sometimes quite small, they are not necessarily in the best place with the right number of volunteers to deliver a wide range of programmes.
I think the Committee certainly needs to look at how we support the grey area between retirement and finding another sport or activity. There are certain drop‑off points throughout a person’s life, whether that is leaving school, leaving university, marriage or buying a house. It is not a single journey. Sport England has been doing quite a lot of work on insight and how we get people back into the sector, wherever it may be, and how we encourage them back in and keep them in. We are an ecosystem; we are all in different parts of it. They are welcome anywhere, but we probably need to work a little bit harder on some bits.
Lisa Wainwright: A very good example of where this works well is in British Cycling. We have all heard the term MAMIL. People have started active travel and have started to do recreational cycling, and then joined a community club and started to compete. It may be worth looking at some further evidence from British Cycling on how they have done that, because it is a model that has definitely worked as regards participation rates and club membership for that sport.
The Chair: Before we leave governance, I want to ask you all about the duty of care and safeguarding. There seem to be different practices within different governing bodies across different sports and other activities. It came strongly to me in the recent football game when David Luiz was able to continue with blood pouring out of his head because he had a bandage on it. If it had been in rugby, the safeguarding laws in rugby union would have said, “No, you can’t do that”. Why do we not have a common set of safeguarding regulations right across the sports?
Lisa Wainwright: As I said, 20 years ago the first piece of research was done on safeguarding in sport with the national governing bodies. Since then, the NSPCC and Sport England have worked together to set up the Child Protection in Sport Unit and provide a framework for funded sports to work in. There are set policies and procedures that they go through.
There are many rules and regulations for national governing bodies that are not just national but international, and some county regulations, as you have seen this week with Lancashire, for example. There is a standard framework and a set of principles and procedures for all sports that work alongside the CPSU, particularly funded governing bodies. There are nuances in health and safety regulations between different governing bodies.
Moving forward on safeguarding, we need to be really clear that, although we have procedures in place for funded bodies, the abuser can go to an unfunded body. As we move from sports for sport’s sake to sport and physical activity, we need to ensure that the Child Protection in Sport Unit can support child protection in sport and physical activity organisations so that children are safe in that environment.
We asked our members for their views on the duty of care document published in 2017; 90% were supportive of the document. I am delighted to say that 73% said that they had started to enact their own duty of care documents, although there were questions about whether the report itself and its seven recommendations had been implemented. Our members have taken on board a number of those recommendations, particularly around having board members who are ambassadors and key links for duty of care.
The Chair: I presume you are happy with that answer, Andy and Huw.
Andy Reed: I have nothing to add.
Huw Edwards: From a health and fitness perspective, ukactive is developing a new consistent core standard called the active standard, which will come into usage in 2021 to provide consistency across the sector for health and safety and wider societal issues. We are developing that with the sector.
The Chair: We have come to our final but by no means least important question.
Q19 Lord Moynihan: I realise that we are nearly out of time, but may I ask all three witnesses to comment on the recommendations you would like the Committee to make to the Government? You may want to take that away and write to us, in view of what you have heard today. A lot of the questions have been driven by reversing the sport, recreation and active lifestyle approach to a more policy‑directed active lifestyle, recreation and sport approach. If that were the case, where in government should responsibility for sport, recreation and active lifestyles lie?
Many of the answers have been about the ineffectiveness of application and delivery. Lisa, you talked about application and delivery being missed. Huw, you talked about a brand-new strategy and vision being needed: a reset. Andy, you were very conscious of the need to be more consumer responsive to walking, cycling and travel. To me, a takeaway is that a focus for government policy should be to embrace Joe Wicks first, from Joe Wicks get an active policy lifestyle going, and then from that flow through to recreation and sport. Could you comment on that? Perhaps you would like to write to us with some reflections on recommendations you would like us to make.
I have one final very small point for Huw. Either now or afterwards, could you let us know, particularly in view of the publications you have put out, whether you have confidence in the data on the sector that the Government publish. If you do, have you road-tested it, and do you have any recommendations?
The Chair: We will start with Huw. There were two questions. Could you start with the last one from Lord Moynihan about data?
Huw Edwards: Absolutely. In terms of the data on participation levels provided by Sport England as regards Active Lives, we have our own research institute in‑house at ukactive, and the numbers we see through our own monitoring and evaluation, across both the public and private operators, are pretty consistent. Both parties work very closely and exchange notes on activity levels across our respective areas of influence.
The Chair: What one thing would you like to say to government?
Huw Edwards: It comes down to what they want to achieve from investing in activity. The recent Sport England and Sheffield Hallam report showed that for every pound invested you get £4 worth of impact. It looks across diabetes, social care, dementia, back pain, musculoskeletal and mental health.
We are going into a period of more challenging economic times, and this is an opportunity to invest in the sector or work and collaborate with the sector. It is not all about investment; it is about improving the landscape in a way that unleashes the potential of the sector to play the widest possible role in the physical, mental and social well‑being of the nation. Are we there yet? No. Can we be? With greater collaboration, 100%.
Lisa Wainwright: For me, it is putting sport and physical activity absolutely at the heart of society. It is essential to the fabric of society. It is not an add‑on. It is absolutely essential. Chris Whitty, the CMO, said there is no point in life where sport and physical activity do not improve health in multiple areas. It is absolutely clear from the last six to nine months where sport and physical activity sit.
As regards asking the Government, the sector has been struggling, and we want to ensure that it can survive and stabilise post Covid, so we would be calling for a sports recovery fund in the new year, similar to the culture recovery fund. We would also be looking at increased investment in the longer term. Alongside that, because we are conscious of the economic side of things, we would look to wider tax and regulatory reforms to supplement the Exchequer funding, in sports betting, for example, to ensure that we reset the relationship between sport and gambling to create a fair return for sport. The Gambling Act came out yesterday for review.
Protection of the National Lottery is absolutely critical. Bearing in mind that 66% of Sport England funding is from the National Lottery, we have to ensure that is protected for the good causes. We would like reform of the tax treatment of sport. We are still not treated in the same way as many of the other sectors and I think it is important that we look at simplifying the CASC (Community Amateur Sports Club) scheme, the VAT rules and enhanced tax giving, moving forwards. We will give you further evidence on that.
The Chair: Lisa, how secure do you feel that the data is an accurate reflection?
Lisa Wainwright: I feel confident that the Active Lives data that we receive is a true and accurate reflection of the increases and decreases in participation. There is a significant amount of investment. I have confidence in the significant data load that is coming through. There is nothing like it globally in the scale of the data coming through. I have confidence in it.
Andy Reed: Very briefly, I echo that final point. Given the Active People survey, the Active Lives survey and the level of investment and the robustness, from what I have seen, I am happy with those figures. How meaningful they are is a different question. There are other questions, and it comes back to my main point: why are we investing in sport, recreation and physical activity? There are all those things that Huw and Lisa have said, but, if we are clear on why we are investing, we can come up with the metrics that you suggested we are light on, Chair. Measuring the social impact rather than just the levels of activity would be really important. That would be one of our calls.
I agree with what Lisa and Huw have said. It is a question of why we are funding and what leads from that. There would be a number of specifics involving opening up school facilities, recognising the role of FE and HE, and a national facilities strategy. We still do not have enough indoor tennis courts. The Football Foundation has just released its list of projects across the country. There is a facilities strategy to come out of this and how that is funded.
As I said before, we do not need lots of new cash necessarily in things like school sport, but a more effective system in delivering the sugar tax levy and a number of other things such as School Games. There are ways in which we can all work much smarter to deliver what we currently have. I have a list of 10 or 12 things we would suggest that I will send you separately. I will not run through them all now, but hopefully that will help you.
To confirm, yes, Lord Moynihan, I think we need to be much more consumer focused. We cannot pigeon-hole people in the future into what suited us in the 1970s and 1980s when we went to school. The world is changing, young people are changing, and what they want to do is changing. We as a sector need to be able to respond to that. That will be reflected in different ways. It might be Pokémon Go, or parkour or parkrun. It might be something completely different in four or five years’ time, but we all have to be responsive to the consumer and what they decide to do. Joe Wicks will be replaced by a younger person in five years’ time. I do not know who that will be, but there will be a replacement for him. We have to be ultra-flexible about the way we deliver. Many in the gym sector are doing that. There are boutique gyms and all sorts of things that emerge. Trends come and go very quickly.
I would like us to sign up to a big, New Zealand-type well‑being vision. As I said before, it is all about leadership from the centre. This is not a criticism of DCMS. It is just that it is a very small department in a big Government and it needs leadership from No. 10 to drive that. I look across the room at people I have worked with in the past who know that to be the case. I say No. 10; Treasury would be ideal. It needs that level of leadership and buy‑in.
As Huw said, we have the ambition to be the most active nation in the world in 10 years’ time. If we can do it on climate change, we can do it on this. We recognise that inactivity in and of itself is a major issue. One in seven preventable deaths is probably due to inactivity. That is a challenge that surely we would all want to take up and address and make a difference on. I do not want to see the next generation dying younger than they need to because we are not active enough. It does not sound very sexy, but I think we can make an enormous difference if we get national leadership on this issue.
The Chair: On that note, because we are just about to divide in our House, I thank all our witnesses this afternoon. You have given us excellent evidence. We have really enjoyed listening to you. I think the whole Committee has been engaged throughout the whole afternoon. Apologies to Baroness Blower for not being able to get you in, but I will make it up to you at some time in the future. Thank you again, Lisa Wainwright, Andy Reed and Huw Edwards, and we look forward to getting your submissions in due course.