National Plan for Sport and Recreation Committee
Corrected oral evidence: National plan for sport and recreation
Wednesday 30 June 2021
Members present: Lord Willis of Knaresborough (The Chair); Lord Addington; Baroness Blower; Baroness Brady; The Earl of Devon; Baroness Grey-Thompson; Lord Hayward; Lord Knight of Weymouth; Baroness Morris of Yardley; Lord Moynihan; Baroness Sater; Lord Snape.
Evidence Session No. 26 Virtual Proceeding Questions 196 - 215
I: Tim Hollingsworth OBE, CEO, Sport England; Sally Munday OBE, CEO, UK Sport.
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and webcast on www.parliamentlive.tv.
Tim Hollingsworth and Sally Munday.
Q196 The Chair: Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to our two distinguished witnesses —I was going to say victims, but I will not—this afternoon. Tim Hollingsworth OBE, CEO of Sport England, welcome and thank you for joining us. Sally Munday OBE, CEO of UK Sport, thank you very much for joining us. We are delighted that we have you both and to have some time to discuss our report and suggestions with you.
When we began this particular piece of work, although our title talks about a national plan, we have actually avoided discussing whether there should be a national plan. We concentrated on sport and recreation first, but we have concentrated far more on active lifestyle. In fact, that has been the major thrust of an awful lot of the work. Of course, it has brought in everything from schools and the health service to elite sport, so it certainly follows the pattern of both your organisations.
We took the 2015 Sporting Future strategy as our major starting point. That was the government strategy when we began, and I know that you have updated since then, Tim, but we tried to take that as our baseline and then move from there. My starting point today is to ask both of you for your assessment of the progress that we have made since the Sporting Future strategy. Do not concentrate on Covid, because clearly that threw things in a different direction, and we will come back to that. What sort of progress do you think we have made? Are we a different nation than we were in 2015?
Tim Hollingsworth: Thank you very much, Lord Willis, and good afternoon, everybody. That it is a terrific first question to ask, because it is absolutely the right question: was Sporting Future pointing us all in the right direction? Five years on, what impact has it had as a government strategy and, subsequently, as you pointed out, on the strategies of Sport England and others?
I think that the Sporting Future document has had a very significant effect in two ways. There is one quite fundamental element of it that I know the Government—you have the Minister before you next week—are looking at updating, I think for the end of the year. Primarily, I do not feel that, until that document, a sufficient case was made within government for why government should invest in sport and physical activity.
The document highlighted the five outcomes that it saw as being meaningful to any investment, which was really important. It gave my organisation and every organisation a great deal of focus for thinking about why, therefore, it invested in our case or why it did what it did in relation to physical well-being, mental well-being, personal agency and confidence, social integration, community cohesion, and ultimately the economic benefit to the nation. I think we should recognise it as having produced real progress as a result.
Secondly, it acknowledges something that for Sport England has become sacrosanct. We are not only interested in those who are already active and sustaining that, important though they are—you mentioned Covid, which will become an important part of that conversation. Sporting Future recognised that there was a genuine need for us to understand the challenge in getting people for whom activity was not part of their lives to think of it and to understand the barriers. We still have a lot of work to do, but we have also seen progress there.
We as Sport England mapped against that strategy with the Towards an Active Nation strategy, which predated me but which my colleagues were very much in the middle of delivering when I joined, and I hope that in the way we have embraced our ambition through Uniting the Movement you can see how the early direction that was set by Sporting Future has had impact.
Finally, there is the way that Sporting Future sought to align sport and physical activity with other parts of government and particularly with other parts of public policy in government. It was a great ambition, but that is the bit that I think needs more focus.
The Chair: You would totally disregard Matthew Syed’s comment that, “Government largesse towards sport has proved to be nothing more than an expensive displacement exercise, a distraction, a sustained exercise in political virtue signalling”?
Tim Hollingsworth: Yes, I would, for two reasons. First, he made that comment nearly four years ago and an awful lot has happened since then. I do not feel that there is a currency to that comment now that there was perhaps then.
Secondly, and more importantly, I would have disagreed with it at the time. It was an easy shot at what was a very complicated job of understanding how to invest public money effectively. Unquestionably, we have become better at it and we are learning all the time as an organisation and a movement what the impact of government funding and government money can be and, most importantly, making sure that it gets to the parts of the community that historically and traditionally have been ill served.
The Chair: Thanks, Tim, that is a good defence.
Sally Munday: Good afternoon. First, thanks very much for inviting me to be part of this this afternoon. It is really good that you have this committee, and I welcome being part of and giving evidence to it, so thank you for that.
I will not repeat some of the things that Tim has said, but for me one of the things that was so important about that strategy was the real demonstration of the value that sport can play in British society. By spelling it out in the way it did with the five outcomes, it demonstrated to people who are not passionate about sport the value of sport in society. It also challenged those of us who are involved in sports, whether as government arm’s-length bodies, governing bodies or other organisations, to look at the value of sport and how it was being delivered to have the greatest impact on society.
Tim referenced the new strategy at Sport England. I am sure that the committee will also be aware that we have recently launched our new strategy for the next decade. It is very fair to say that the idea of how sport, and particularly in our case high-performance sport and elite sport, can have a positive impact on society is really important to us in our new strategy.
We have three very clear ambitions under a mission of wanting to create the greatest decade of extraordinary moments, which is a pretty big ambition given some of the extraordinary moments that we have had in the last decade. Our three ambitions are very much about having a broader range of champions and medallists. It is about supporting our community across the UK to be ever more collaborative in setting a diverse, ethical and sustainable agenda for tomorrow. But, importantly, the last of our ambitions is about how we will utilise the platform of elite sport to contribute to a happier, prouder and more connected society and use the power and platform of sport to inspire positive change.
I believe that the starting point of the strategy that was launched in 2015 started to change people’s thinking and conversations. We have seen a shift in people’s thinking about the role of sport in society. I know that we do not want this session to be about Covid, but the last 18 months has demonstrated very clearly the value of sport to society. When it gets taken away, the negative things that can evolve have been a strong illustration of why sport and physical activity is so important.
The Chair: Thank you for that, Sally. We will come back to one or two of those things.
Q197 Lord Knight of Weymouth: Tim, under Sporting Future, your remit is extended from 14-plus to age five-plus. I am interested in how that has changed your relationship with the school sector. You talked about there being a need to align with other parts of government. Is the Department for Education one of the departments you were thinking of?
Tim Hollingsworth: Yes, it is, and I say that very openly. As you rightly point out, we have the responsibility in Sporting Future from age five and up out of school, but clearly a huge amount of activity and children’s lives are spent in school. We have seen in the last year or 18 months the impact of the closures of schools and the impact of Covid on our young people in particular.
It is a very good example of where there is alignment. The Government’s strategy for school sport and physical activity has started to evolve. Meetings have recently been convened by Ministers of sport and education to bring together the sector again to look at the strategy. There is still a need to understand the role that sport and being active can play, at both primary and secondary level, in the overall experience of our young people in school. More could also be done in measuring and evaluating that and the way schools currently consider their achievement through the lens of Ofsted or some of the other measures that they have, with more of a focus on children’s activity and well-being.
Lord Knight of Weymouth: If the school sector said, for example, “We’d like the national governing bodies to allow more mixing of gender in school sport”, would they come to you to put pressure on the governing bodies or would they go through the Department for Education?
Tim Hollingsworth: We need to see that as a very good example of how the need for a singular route is important but that it is a collaborative enterprise. My view is very clearly that is already happening in the conversation about primary schools. If you talk to national governing bodies now, we are all much more aligned as a sector in understanding that what really matters at that age is that our young people are active, have fun and are engaged. Their physical literacy—their sense of their ability to move, to enjoy it, to have some competency in it—is much more important than them playing an individual sport or focusing on an individual skill.
The governing bodies would need to work with us on that, but they would also need to understand their role in engaging with the school sector. Very important organisations like the Youth Sport Trust could play an important role there in aligning that with schools’ ambitions and the needs of head teachers.
Q198 Lord Moynihan: Tim, if Sport England is doing so well in getting more people active across England, why have the Government established a new office to promote physical activity?
Tim Hollingsworth: They have not, Lord Moynihan. They are creating a new office for health promotion, which is a much broader thing than just physical activity. In fact, one of the things that I would love to talk to the committee about this afternoon is making sure that that office sees physical activity as a fundamental part of what physical well-being should be about. There is an awful lot of focus at the moment on whether that is to do with diet and obesity as well as physical activity and exercise. If it was solely about physical activity, I would argue that you are right, but we can align with them very much more positively to help them understand how best to introduce more physical activity for people’s well-being.
Lord Moynihan: It says very clearly in the government press release that the new Office for Health Promotion will focus on promoting physical activity—it uses those three words—reporting jointly into the Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty. Surely it is far better placed to co-ordinate the promotion of getting people more active across England than a non-departmental public body established under royal charter in 1996.
Tim Hollingsworth: I think that the best place to promote health in its full form is undoubtedly in the Department of Health and Social Care. Where that office is coming from, of course, is in the transfer of some of those responsibilities from Public Health England. That is a good model for how we, through Uniting the Movement, wish to align our activity and the work of governing bodies and many other organisations in helping the promotion of physical activity.
In the last two or three years we have been building a very effective partnership with Public Health England to support people to understand better how they can be active. If there is an office for health promotion making people realise how important physical activity is to their lives, we can support that hugely with our organisations and sector by enabling that to happen and making sure that it is easy for people to fit that into their lives in a way that makes sense to them. I do not think that it should be a battle about which organisation does what. We should be working together.
Q199 The Chair: We will come back to this later in the day, Lord Moynihan, because I think you want to follow that up.
Tim, you mentioned the Uniting the Movement strategy, which is your latest initiative. Could you say very briefly how you will evaluate success and progress in that strategy, because that is not clear from reading it?
Tim Hollingsworth: We have sought at least to illustrate that in the first year with a plan for its implementation which we have now published. We saw that strategy—it is for a decade; it looks ahead to 2030—as being one to set the manifesto for what sport and physical activity in our communities can achieve rather than being precise about the measures. We will bring the measures forward in our implementation plan. The next implementation plan, which we will do for the next three years, will be published towards the end of the year.
I see progress as twofold. First, we want in the round to see activity numbers in this country rising, as they were before the pandemic. Secondly, and this is very clear within Uniting the Movement, we see the main mission of the strategy as making it possible for everyone to be active and tackling some of the very stubborn inequalities in opportunity that we have seen over the years. Another measure for me is that communities that currently feel less well served by sport are able to access it and enjoy it in their lives.
The Chair: Baroness Morris will come on to this later, but one of the big concerns of this committee is how we evaluate the data coming out of Sport England, and out of UK Sport. We will return to that later. We now come to Baroness Sater, who has been very patient.
Q200 Baroness Sater: Thank you both for joining us this afternoon. The committee has heard that the delivery of sport and recreation is fragmented and uncoordinated. Do you agree with that assessment, and how can delivery be improved?
As a second question, the committee has also heard that funding cycles are too short, that there is insufficient information about what funding is available, and that funding applications are overly bureaucratic and burdensome. It takes people a lot of time and effort to fill in the forms and so on. Do you agree with that assessment, and what can be done to improve the situation?
Sally Munday: There are two parts to the question, and I will start with the first part about delivery being fragmented. I have worked in sport for my entire career. In the landscape, there are different partners and providers contributing to people being able to get physically active and to play sport at school and community level, and to feed into talent pathways and on to the elite end.
Our responsibility at UK Sport is at the elite end. I would not necessarily use the word “fragmented”, but I would say that it is complex because there are so many partners. One of the opportunities that we have, and I have seen this just in the 18 months that I have been doing this job, is a huge commitment to collaboration not only from us, the sports councils, Tim and Sport England, and the other home nations, but from the governing bodies, professional sport and community sport. I see an opportunity for us as the sports councils to drive that collaboration. It is central to what we are trying to do in our new strategy, which is to try to harness the opportunities that we have from all the different bodies that are involved in sport.
It is too easy for us to sit here and say that it is fragmented, that it is bad. We need to turn that on its head and say that there is opportunity here. With the right leadership from organisations like us, Sport England and others and with the help and intervention from committees such as yours, I think we can turn what feels like a negative in some places into a positive opportunity for both participation and elite sport.
I will deal with your second question about funding cycles. Obviously, I am looking at this through the lens of Olympic and Paralympic sport but also through the lens of major and mega events, which is what we are responsible for at UK Sport. In our new strategy and our new investment process, we fund for a period of four years, but we have asked sports to look much further ahead than that. We have taken decisions in the light of 12 years ahead. We are investing in more sports than we have ever invested in before, because we are looking not just at the next Olympic and Paralympic Games, but at the Games beyond that in LA and beyond that in 2032. We are now investing in athletes in 49 sports to pursue medal success in Beijing, the Winter Games, Paris and beyond. I think that taking a longer-term view has enabled us to bring more sports into the fold.
Is the process too bureaucratic? UK Sport is looking at how we can make the process as simple as it can be and the least onerous. I would couple that with the sense of responsibility that I and my colleagues feel about investing public money. We will invest over £500 million over a four-year cycle, 60% of which is lottery money and 40% of which is Exchequer money. We take the responsibility for that public money very seriously. There is a balance to be struck between making sure that organisations we invest in are fit for receiving public money and making sure that we do not make it so difficult for them that it makes them lose heart in wanting to apply to us for money in the first place.
The Chair: Lord Addington, did you want to come in here, with Sally?
Lord Addington: I was really waiting to get my retaliation in first, in the good old rugby tradition, and come in on Sport England.
The Chair: Okay, we will wait to hear from Tim then.
Baroness Sater: I go back to Sally’s first answer about leadership and collaboration. Lots of people want to drive it forward. We always talk about getting people together, getting a collaboration together. Who should take that leadership role? Who will get that to work?
Sally Munday: Having a national plan for sport is important, because it sets the parameters for that. I am very clear about the leadership role played by UK Sport, Sport England and the other home countries’ sports councils. Like I said, I have been in post 18 months. I feel pretty proud of the relationships that we have developed across the five sports councils, and I believe that we have a real responsibility to demonstrate leadership in that space.
I will give you a real example. In our world, in Olympic and Paralympic sport we compete as Great Britain and Northern Ireland. A lot of the sports that are in the Olympic and Paralympic Games also play as an individual home nation, as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For too long I have heard, “We can’t do that. It’s too difficult, because we have devolved nations”. Every other nation in the world looks at us with envy, because we bring four nations into one for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. For too long we have allowed the difficulty and the hurdles to stop us doing things.
I think that we at UK Sport, Tim and his colleagues at Sport England and peers at the other home countries’ sports councils have to turn that on its head. We have to start challenging that argument and taking a leadership space in relation to how we collaborate. That is at a national level, but the same applies at regional and grass-roots level and across sports. There is so much opportunity to learn and share good practice, and UK Sport and the other sports councils have to take that leadership position. I believe that we are starting to do that, as evidenced by some of the things that we have been doing over the last year or so.
Tim Hollingsworth: I hope it is a sign of the collaboration that Sally mentioned just then that I agree pretty much with every word she said there.
I definitely recognise in broad terms some of the challenges that you paint, Baroness Sater. It will always be the case when it is public money. We receive £100 million, or thereabouts, of Exchequer money every year and about £200 million of lottery money. I take that responsibility extremely seriously. There will always be a process in the awarding of public funding to make sure not only that the organisations receiving it are fit for purpose but that we can account for it and its impact.
On your point about the fragmented nature of the sector and what we are trying to achieve, in historical terms I agree. I think we have been too transactional in our approach to achieving success, which is that everything has to flow back in and through Sport England, and that unless we are over it, unless we are directing it, we will achieve no results.
Increasingly, we are realising that the opposite is true. We have a real responsibility to build collaborative, trusting relationships across the sector so that we can rely on organisations with a real knowledge of the communities that we are trying to reach or with a real understanding of the environments in which they are operating in order to take more responsibility for the delivery. We are getting to a place now as a sector, exactly as Sally describes, where the key term is not ownership but collaboration and partnership.
We called our strategy Uniting the Movement for a very clear reason. This is not an attempt to become a singular organisation responsible for everything. It is an attempt to bind the common purpose of the value of sport and its impact in the community and then enable organisations with that shared purpose to ensure that people are receiving the benefit of that in opportunities to be active.
To Sally’s point about the home nations, we have the fact of devolution in this country and the complexity of the landscape. In grass-roots and community terms, there are four different organisations responsible for that. The key, therefore, is to make sure that we are aligning. We are doing that very much to Sally’s agenda about how to manifest that at the elite end.
The instinct that our organisation has, our board has and certainly the organisations with which we are now starting to work have is that we will never lose the requirement for some oversight and scrutiny, but we have to become more trusting. We have to build the relationships that enable partnership and collaboration. If we think that we will create a more active nation simply with the money that we have and the programmes that we can run, we will never achieve it. We know that now, and we hope that Uniting the Movement is the best signpost for how working differently will effect that lasting change.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Lord Addington, here is your opportunity.
Q201 Lord Addington: This question is really aimed at you, Tim. Most sport for adults is delivered through amateur sports clubs or other voluntary organisations. They do the vast majority of it, and they self-fund; they do it themselves. I take it that you agree. What would you see as your primary function for supporting them? How would you see that role? You are clearly not going to pay for all the pitches, the kit and so on. You will be supporting them in getting through. How can they access that help? Having been a secretary of a rugby club, I know that there is enough paperwork to be going on with, and God help me if I had to do the treasurer’s job as well. What do you think your role is with regard to the voluntary grass-roots structure that will do most of the heavy lifting?
Tim Hollingsworth: I agree with you, Lord Addington. The role of grass-roots sports clubs in our community is fundamental. We also need to extend that beyond the role that traditional sports clubs play. An organisation like StreetGames, for example—forgive me, Baroness Sater; I was going to mention this at some point, so I might as well mention it now—that is thinking about ways to deliver sport in the community other than through the traditional sports club network is equally important to our overall ambition.
The answer to your question is that we think very clearly about this, as we have seen during Covid. During Covid, our response has been primarily to try to make sure that that grass-roots sports network is sustained, because it is so vital to the role that sport plays in our community.
We have probably three primary roles here, one of which is to support the governing body at national level so that it can provide the information, the competition structures, the membership structures, the benefits, everything that flows through to those clubs. As in the case of your rugby club, what you get from the RFU ultimately is one element of that, and that is the case particularly in sports that we fund to a large degree.
Secondly, we do, absolutely, think about how those sports clubs can support their communities. There are open funds either for capital investment into facilities or for providing programmes that can help organisations to organise themselves and thrive. We hold programmes like Club Matters, which is an online tool to enable clubs to understand the regulatory environment that they operate in and how they can improve their club governance and membership structures. That is a free online facility and resource that we put out to all clubs.
We also have a significant responsibility to create the demand, for want of a better word. Just to assume that a sports club exists in its community, and so people will play there, is to miss why there are still so many inactive people in this country. We need to think about what stimulates people to want to be active. Some of our role there has been more along the lines of thinking about the advocacy and campaigning for sport and activity in our communities, and programmes like This Girl Can are a very good example of how we can do that more effectively.
The Chair: Tim, you slip easily between sport and activity and being active. Last week, we heard from the British Wheel of Yoga. Tens of thousands of people are doing yoga, from schoolchildren right through to the elderly, yet they find it impossible to communicate with you because there is no way into your organisation.
Tim Hollingsworth: That is a very interesting reflection, because if you look at the way we operate now and seek to engage with communities, you will see very often our ability to help to support organisations to do exercise classes, spin cycle classes, some of that non-traditional activity very effectively. I am interested to hear that from that particular group.
I do slip very easily between sport and activity, because I do not think that it helps the agenda if we define it through one or the other. I think that our responsibility is to make the nation more physically active, and we should recognise that sport plays a fundamental part in that. As a sports council, we have the obligation to support it in our communities as well.
The Chair: But, Tim, this feeds right back into Lord Moynihan’s earlier point about the new organisation that is coming out of Public Health England with this clear objective in mind. I do not know whether you want to come back here, Lord Moynihan, but I did not feel that you had squared that circle, if you do not mind me saying so, about what this new organisation will do as opposed to what you will do in making the nation more active.
Lord Moynihan: Yes, I have a quick question. Could the Office for Health Promotion promote physical activity without Sport England?
Tim Hollingsworth: It will look to promote the benefit of physical activity, absolutely, and that should be its role. Its role in health promotion is for people to be aware that being physically active is very good for their physical and mental health. I would argue that the question of whether there is the resource, the opportunity and the promotion of what physical activity can be in people’s lives is a very different question. Suggesting that that would be the best place for it would mean a wholesale change in the definition of the role of sport in government.
It is far better, in my view, for us to have what we hope to have, which is a very positive partnership and collaboration with the Office for Health Promotion so that we can align our messages in the way we have with Public Health England. We can align on programmes like Moving Healthcare Professionals, which we have done very effectively with Public Health England, which is to help GPs and primary healthcare providers to understand the benefits of physical activity. We can also align, as we are increasingly doing in place in a number of cities across the country, with the social prescribing model for GPs, whereby they think about and know how physical activity can be part of the solutions that they offer their patients.
This is an evolving and positive conversation. As to whether it is one organisation or another, it will quite patently, to my mind, effectively be a partnership of both.
Q202 Lord Addington: I have one last question. How would you feel about being subsumed and answering directly to this organisation? Let us face it, if you want more dues from government for clarity, the Department of Health seems to be the bigger player.
Tim Hollingsworth: I think that is a matter for government rather than for Sport England, but we fit very well and we need to align with government departments as a sector and as an organisation rather than automatically assuming that the answer is, in your words, being subsumed, Lord Addington.
The Chair: That was a very diplomatic political answer, Tim. We now move on to one of the issues that has been at the heart of our inquiry, which is this issue of data. Baroness Morris is our data champion.
Q203 Baroness Morris of Yardley: I wish I was. Good afternoon. The question of how much we can rely on the data that you hold about the number of people who are active and the number of people who are inactive has come up in a lot of our witness sessions. Your policies are built on that, and the Government can build their policies on that.
This question is to both of you, but I will start with Tim. How happy are you with the accuracy of the data that you collect? Ideally, what kind of data would you wish to have that you do not have at the moment? How might you get it?
As a supplementary to that, the Active Lives survey has been brought up a lot. One of the complaints has been that once you disaggregate it to local level, there are so few respondents that it is of no use to local authorities or local geographical areas. Tell us a bit about where we are with data collection and where you would like us to be.
Tim Hollingsworth: You mentioned the Active Lives survey, which underpins the data collection for Sport England, both at a national level and – within the sport and physical activity sector – in looking at individual parts of our community. It is definitely a step on from the previous Active People survey. It is a more comprehensive look than we have ever been able to have before as a nation. I know that this committee has done a really good job of hearing positively from other parts of the world about their practices, and there is undoubtedly lots that we can learn from the rest of the world. They tend to look with some envy at our Active Lives survey and the amount of data that we are able to collect and how it can be split nationally.
I absolutely agree with you about whether we are finding the data that truly demonstrates the challenge that we face, particularly in tackling inactivity and the communities that are inactive. The committee will have noted that Sally and I, both our organisations, together with the other home countries, published a very honest reflection last week on where we were in understanding the true picture of involvement of people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups in sport.
One of the key areas of weakness that we identified is the absence of real data for understanding the challenges because of the amount of information that we hold as evidence. We feel that it gives us impetus and a very good indication of where we need to head now in our data collection, which is how we can think about communities and think differently about the way data is captured at a local level—you mentioned local authorities.
It is less about the overall picture. I think that Active Lives has been hugely helpful in painting a consistent picture. I am very proud of the way we have this enormous resource to call upon. It enables us to understand individual sport activities, age groups and different sections of our society, but perhaps it does not give us enough active data in certain areas to be clear about where we should head next.
Sally Munday: Without wanting to duck the question, we do not collect data on participation in the work that we do. However, we collect data on other things. We collect public attitude survey data, for example, on how elite sport impacts on people’s happiness and people’s desire to participate and how it makes people feel when we invest in hosting major events. We have some good, rich data about that, which tells us very clearly how the British public feel about Team GB and Paralympics GB. For example, 40% of people said that they felt happier and more satisfied as a result of being inspired, and 40% were motivated to do more sport or active recreation than normal. That is the type of data that we are interested in.
The important thing about data for me is how you then use it. The insight that you can take from the data influences the decisions and investments that you make. It is data about the things that we are interested in and is a different set of data from Tim’s. It is not purely about participation.
Baroness Morris of Yardley: As a quick follow-up, how much would you act on the data? A couple of years ago, for example, if I remember rightly there was a mood, which I think might be reflected in the data, that we ought to be spending less on getting a few people to get gold medals and more on getting more people to participate. That might lead you to say, “I’ll hand some money back to grass-roots sports”. You are not going to do that, are you?
Sally Munday: I would argue—I would say this, wouldn’t I?—that the role that Team GB and Paralympics GB play in inspiring the nation and winning at the Games is hugely important. The public tracker surveys that we do tell us that 70% of the British population tune in to watch, and 75% of the public feel proud when our Olympic and Paralympic athletes achieve success, and not only does it make people feel good but it has an impact on their desire to do more activity and on their action.
It is important to remember that in the public attitudes survey Team GB and Paralympics GB consistently enjoy the top spots for the nation’s most popular sporting teams and consistently rank alongside the NHS and the Armed Forces when it comes to what makes the public most proud to be British. I do not think we should underestimate the value of national pride and of providing a genuine source of inspiration and motivation for the public, I really do not.
Q204 Lord Knight of Weymouth: I want to pick up on other potential sources of data from both of you. So many of us have smart watches, apps and technology. So much data is being collected about our physical activity. In elite sport, a lot of data is being collected about what elite sportspeople are doing and lots of data from people observing sport. We can infer from data, and technology companies infer a lot from data and joining different datasets together.
Tim, are you doing that? Are you linking the Active Lives survey data with other datasets to get more insight and more inference? Sally, is there more that you can do to help us make linkages from some of the data that you might have access to and patterns in what can turn people on to physical activity, probably inspired by the elite athletes you work with?
Tim Hollingsworth: I agree with you, Lord Knight. We all understand that we need to define better whatever we call big data and the overall ability to disaggregate all the information that is available to organisations now.
To answer your question, I would point to our Uniting the Movement strategy. Alongside the five big issues in Uniting the Movement that we highlighted as being very relevant for us collectively to work towards, we also included what we consider to be five catalysts for real change that Sport England needs to give particular attention to. One was more use of data and insight, exactly in the way Baroness Morris and now you have mentioned: what insight can we glean from the information that we have to make future policy decisions and investments? Therefore, in our own resource and in our thinking about the way to promulgate, support and advocate for that more broadly, we are committed to the agenda that you are describing.
I know that Covid has skewed everything that this committee is looking at, but it has also, perhaps positively if I can put it in those terms, made us think very acutely about the barriers and people’s life experiences, particularly some of the qualitative information that you can collect alongside quantitative data about the issues and the motivations that we need to understand. Bringing in that qualitative data and being more focused on it will be important to the picture, but we need to do more, and our catalyst is essentially identifying that in our new strategy.
Sally Munday: We are not looking at data, as I said, from a participation point of view, but data is central to sporting success. We feel quite proud of the way we collect information on individual athletes and their competitors and, importantly, on their health. We invest in the English Institute of Sport in the way we collect the data and some of the learning that we collect across athletes, and what we learn from our elite athlete cohort can transfer into the NHS. A number of people who sit in our English Institute of Sport who also sit in NHS positions. Our contribution is very much about how we can use the expertise and knowledge that we have to influence other parts of society in a positive way.
Lord Knight of Weymouth: Sally, do you still talent spot largely on the basis of expert humans, or are you also now using data to look at young talent in particular and see how well they are performing so that you then know who to look at?
Sally Munday: Both, is the answer, and it varies from sport to sport as to where the balance is. If you were to take a team sport where you could very easily measure technical aspects, fundamentally you could be a brilliant technician, but if you cannot make a good decision under pressure there is no point having that good technical ability. If we think about what probably most of us watched last night and about the players—who made good decisions under pressure, when they were tired, when they were slightly dehydrated and so on as the match went on, and who made bad decisions—that is data.
There is also a certain amount of coach perspective, the human coaching eye, on that. When you are looking at talent coming through, part of that is about data. Certainly, with some of the individual sports, where we are looking at physiology and make-up as well as things like how fast somebody can go, that also contributes.
Lord Knight of Weymouth: You are mindful of any bias in the data against certain ethnic groups, certain aspects.
Sally Munday: Yes. It is interesting you say that. One of the strong themes of our new strategy is diversity. We are absolutely focused on making sure that the British team of Olympic and Paralympic athletes truly represents the diversity of this country. We have further to go in that space, and part of that is about unpicking some of what you have just referred to. It is also about us working closely with Tim and the other home country sports councils to make sure that any barriers that exist are removed; that it is truly only potential that enables you to be successful and that we remove the other barriers.
It is a point very well made and something that we are very conscious of in our ambition to have a community in high-performance sport that truly reflects British society.
Q205 Baroness Morris of Yardley: I have a quick question to round this up, really. Tim, you have talked about what you have, which comparatively you are proud of, and you have talked about what you would like to do. At the moment, I know that the data you hold is not perfect, so I am not being critical of the fact that it is not perfect. What is your level of confidence? Where are you at the moment in your ability to collect data, and how confident are you that you can make sound judgments based on it?
Tim Hollingsworth: I am confident, and I am not just saying that. I genuinely am. I think we have a track record now from the Active Lives survey over the five years it has been running and we are starting to understand that the trends are reflective of what we are also seeing and hearing from other sources. Genuinely, I think that Active Lives points significantly to the ways in which we can affect and influence through our future investment. I agree with you about granularity, and in certain areas geographically that is a well-made point.
You agree that the data will never be perfect data, and it would be impossible to collect perfect data without overwhelming resource being applied to it. There is a sense from other nations that we have spoken to that they want to look at Active Lives and to copy how we do it, because twice a year we collect data from random samples of the population to make sure that we are moderating against our investments the effect they are having and we are pointing the way to future investment and how we can collectively shape the activity of the nation.
Q206 Baroness Brady: Good afternoon. I want to move to the really important subject of duty of care and safeguarding. I would like to hear from both of you how you monitor duty of care and safeguarding standards in the sector and how you handle the complaints that you receive.
Tim Hollingsworth: We have significant investment at the moment in supporting organisations to enable and to ensure that sports have safeguarding standards in place. We are also making sure through the Code for Sports Governance, and other forms of influence that we have over our funded partners, that they are not only taking on their duty of care and safeguarding responsibilities but are putting in place the methods and the processes that they are required to have, certainly when it comes to things like the protection of children and young people in sport and the relationship that we have there with the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children and other organisations.
We have our own complaints procedure. We are not a regulator, however, so we are not in a position to do anything other than hear complaints about organisations’ compliance or not with the funding agreements that we have with them. If a complaint comes into this organisation, we investigate under those terms and, if necessary, go to the organisations concerned and ask for more information. We will seek to understand whether there is a justification to the complaint that we have heard.
Baroness Brady: How robust do you feel that your procedures are? Do you sleep well at night knowing that everybody within the sporting sectors that you work in is safe?
Tim Hollingsworth: The responsibility for people in our society cannot be held by the chief executive of a sports council alone, but I do worry about whether we are doing everything we can. Yes, is the answer to your question. However, I think we also need to understand that individual governing bodies of sports have a responsibility for their sports. That is the “g” of governing body. They are responsible for that. There are also responsibilities within individual clubs to set them up and govern themselves well.
I look forward to the debate about safeguarding that is coming, and it will come not least because of the commission that Sally and I have put in place as UK Sport and Sport England to look into the sport of British gymnastics and the review that Anne Whyte QC is carrying out at the moment. I think that review will point the way to us thinking again about how safeguarding in sport is carried out.
Baroness Brady: Sally, in addition to asking you about how you handle the complaints and how you monitor safeguarding, how much of a priority is safeguarding for UK Sport?
Sally Munday: It is a big priority. I wrap what you have asked about duty of care and safeguarding into what we describe as integrity in elite sport. We are very clear in what we are doing now. It is absolutely in black and white in our new strategy.
I talked about one of our three ambitions being to develop a broader range of champions and medallists. We want to keep winning, but we are very clear that we want to win well. We are very clear about what winning well means and, for us, integrity, duty of care and safeguarding are absolutely at the heart of that. We want every athlete who comes into a funded programme that we support to leave that programme having had a positive experience. We cannot control whether they will or will not achieve their full ambition and leave with the medals that they might have wanted to get, but we can influence the fact that they have a positive journey.
Any elite athlete will tell you that if you want to be the best in the world it is not an easy gig and it is pretty tough to do. A high-performance environment is a tough environment, but we are very clear that we want every athlete to look back on their time in a programme and feel that it has been a positive experience.
I feel that progress has been made since Tanni Grey-Thompson’s duty of care work a while back, but we still have some way to go. You may have seen a publication that we shared only a couple of weeks ago—if you have not, I am very happy to share it with the committee—on what we mean about winning with integrity and winning well.
There are four things that we want to have some debate with the industry about over the next period, with the aim that at the end of this year, following the publication of the Whyte review, we will publish an integrity strategy. Those four areas are: enhancing independent disclosures and complaints; having clear integrity standards for everyone in sport; having trusted independent bodies to support athletes and high-performance professionals; and growing the integrity capability and capacity of NGBs. I cannot share more strongly with you how important this sits as a focus of our new strategy.
Baroness Brady: I hear you say that you want the athletes to have a positive experience, but the 2020 Culture Health Check survey, which the committee received, said that 10% of athletes and staff experienced or witnessed unacceptable behaviour and, even worse, that 53% believed that there are no consequences when people behave inappropriately. How will you make it a priority?
Sally Munday: There are two bits in responding to what you have just said and I will deal with the latter one first.
The consequences piece is really important. I said that one of the things we want to look at is enhancing independent disclosure and complaints, and there are two parts to that. First, it is about making sure that there are disclosure procedures that encourage the bravery of somebody to come forward and say, “I don’t think this is acceptable behaviour”. Once they have had the bravery to do that, it is then about making sure that the complaints process is robust.
I think we are in a place right now where we want to enhance the independence of the complaints process. We have a number of governing bodies that are very well equipped and manage a huge number of complaints effectively, whether that is at the grass roots or the elite end of their sport. We also know that there are other sports that are probably less mature and need some more help. We know that that will be important.
On the 10% that you referenced, I will caveat what I am about to say. One example of unacceptable behaviour is one too many. However, we have to put into context the fact that we are a people business and inevitably will have situations where people who do not adhere and do not want to adhere to the standards that we want to see will come into our industry. We have to make it very difficult for them to do so, but make it very easy for people to call out that behaviour.
If you were to compare our situation with other people-based businesses like the armed services and the National Health Service, our average of unacceptable behaviour is far lower. I want to give a health warning and repeat what I said at the beginning: that one case of unacceptable behaviour is one too many. We have to be able to root it out, whether it is athlete-to-athlete unacceptable behaviour or staff-to-athlete unacceptable behaviour. We are unequivocal in the conversations we are having with sports and sports governing bodies about making sure that the right things are in place to enable that to happen.
Q207 Lord Addington: Sally, we have a very good example of getting good results by giving somebody a reward: you do well in sport and you get money. Have you considered a sport not having sufficient process in place and not acting sufficiently losing that money because prestige and so on are taken away with the bad behaviour?
Sally Munday: It is a reasonable question to ask, Lord Addington. There are a couple of bits to this. The first is that part of our strategy and the second big ambition within it is about growing a thriving sporting system. A particular focus is how we support sports and our partners to thrive and to build organisational health that enables them to have good duty of care and good integrity.
We are very clear about wanting to invest money in organisations that are fit for purpose. Money has not been removed historically, but I am very clear that if we do not see organisations taking this seriously enough and we do not believe that what they have in place is good enough, we will remove money. We will not invest in the way we have. But we have to be clear that the people who would then suffer would be the athletes, because it is investment that they would not see. We have to get that balance right, and we are looking at what we can put in place that almost gives warnings but makes sure that every sport takes this seriously.
My experience, in the 18 months I have been doing this job and in the 10 years before that when I was CEO of a sport, is that the vast majority of sports take this incredibly seriously and the vast majority of people in our high-performance community are doing the right thing. But every example, any example, of unacceptable behaviour has to be dealt with, and one example is too many, as I have already said.
Q208 Baroness Brady: Tim, is there a common framework and standards to the approach to duty of care across all the sports that you deal with?
Tim Hollingsworth: Yes, and in fact all the organisations and sports that we deal with, through their funding agreement and increasingly now with the Code for Sports Governance, have to adhere to a common standard and are required to consider, through the process of funding, their ability to achieve the safeguarding standard in sport.
Baroness Brady: Are you confident that they all are?
Tim Hollingsworth: No, I am not, which is one reason why we use that mechanism to get to that point. But we absolutely see that as fundamental. Ultimately, yes, there will be organisations that we are working with over a period of time that will be achieving that standard. One of the mechanisms that we can use—this is similar to what Lord Addington has been asking Sally about—is the opportunity to consider ultimately the withdrawal of funding if that is not being done.
The Chair: Briefly, would you support the idea of an ombudsman to adjudicate on some of these issues that fall across different sports?
Sally Munday: We are open-minded about an ombudsman. In the integrity paper, we said that we feel that we need to enhance the independent disclosure and complaints processes and to make sure that there are trusted independent bodies to support athletes and high-performance professionals. We have put that paper out very deliberately, because we want to generate a debate and a conversation in our industry. I do not want to jump to saying that an ombudsman will fix it, because that is a bit too simple. Does there need to be enhanced independence? Yes, there does. That is the conversation that we want to have.
Q209 Lord Moynihan: I have two questions to follow up on Baroness Brady’s examination. The answers can be very short. First, is there a need to introduce mandatory reporting? Secondly, do we need a national register of coaches?
Tim Hollingsworth: Getting some common framework for accreditation of coaches is a very active discussion at the moment with the organisation CIMSPA, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, which you will be very familiar with.
I agree with you that the momentum and the direction of travel here is that a coach should not only have demonstrable skill in teaching their sport and being able to demonstrate that they can teach someone a forward defence or a backhand but that they should also be able to demonstrate that they have the right accreditation and the right level of understanding of how to create a safe and inclusive environment for all their participants. The conversation that is happening very actively with the governing bodies and CIMSPA at the moment, and we are supporting that at Sport England, is going down exactly that path.
On mandatory reporting, I need to understand from my own point of view what data and what information will be most useful to our framing of the debate on this. I agree with the thrust of your question. I have tried to reflect the fact that we have been taking a responsible course of action, but undoubtedly one of the big issues is that this sector as a whole—not just Sport England and UK Sport, but our part of society—needs to recognise that front and centre of our agenda has to be whether we are genuinely creating the safest and most inclusive environments for sport and physical activity to happen. Therefore, we should be open to whatever reporting mechanisms can support that.
Lord Moynihan: You support the concept of a national register of coaches and you have defined some of the characteristics that would qualify for a coach. Do you also recognise that a coach can and must be defined in the context of bodies that you fund? At the moment, anybody can say they are a coach.
Tim Hollingsworth: That is why the conversation we are having now is so important. As with Sally’s point, in jumping immediately to an end product you then spend time unpicking the bits that do not quite fit or do not make sense. I want to reassure you that the conversation about how we define the nature of that accreditation and how we could be clear about who we mean is a very important part of that. I welcome the fact that so many of the governing bodies are actively involving themselves in that conversation and recognising the need to do so.
Lord Moynihan: That is very helpful. Sally, your thoughts?
Sally Munday: I will not add to what Tim has said about the coaches’ data and a national register, because I would say the same thing. With regard to mandatory reporting, I want to understand the question better. Are you talking about mandatory reporting of what you want to see? If so, I think it is about unacceptable behaviour, and yes, I agree with you, but I would want to understand what you mean when you say mandatory reporting. The reporting of what?
Q210 Lord Moynihan: That is fair. To save time I will not go into that now but will enjoy discussing it with you on another occasion.
One final question in this context. We have touched on the sport ombudsman. To be fair, a lot of the representations made to us are frustrated representations in this subject. It was 2017 when Tanni did her report. Much of that has not been implemented—some of it has—and there is real concern that new, clearly defined steps need to be taken in the duty of care requirements and in safeguarding. Should adult duty of care requirements be mandatory to receive public funding?
Sally Munday: That is a good question, and I do not want to give you a kneejerk answer. Please do not think I am avoiding it, but I would like to reflect on that, if I may.
Lord Moynihan: Absolutely. If you could write to us with your thoughts on that, that would be appreciated. Tim, your thoughts?
Tim Hollingsworth: It sounds very much like I am saying the same thing, but I would also be happy to reflect more. You are asking a fundamental question about things that go beyond sport. It goes into issues that I am aware we do not have a locus over—things to do with civil rights and wider legal perspectives.
I very much agree with you that these conversations and the depth of these conversations, the level of insight and thought about what is needed, are being prompted by all the terrible cases that we are hearing that are either historic or are still happening today. If it is reassuring, the mood in our sector and certainly in our organisations is that we have to think more about what is needed. All the things that you are describing, without being clearly a yes or a no straightaway, are areas that we need to consider.
Lord Moynihan: Thank you. I will close on this point by saying that the frustration is the time it has taken to continue to discuss and to reflect and to come up with solutions. We are now heading into year 5 of this being a major issue. It was a major issue in 2017, and before in 2016, and it has been throughout my time in sport. But the committee will take your comments on board and reflect on the fact that maybe the time has now come to take more decisive action to move this debate forward.
Q211 Baroness Grey-Thompson: I am delighted to hear that there is a willingness to discuss an ombudsman, and I am very open-minded about what that organisation should be. Something that is independent is important, and I had to pick a name for it, so that was the one that was so obvious.
A number of governing bodies have had internal investigations, but the results have not become public and there is a fear of disclosure. It is great that something may happen in the future, but what are you able to do more immediately, right now, in the lead-up to Tokyo and beyond? This is true for athletes on a talent pathway as much as anybody in a club. What can be done now to break down that culture of fear?
Some of the elite athletes who have come out are out of contract when they make a disclosure, or people are out of the sport when they make the disclosure. It is great that something is to be done in the future, but what can be done now? This applies equally to coaches who do not experience a great time either; it is not just athletes.
Sally Munday: Good afternoon. It is nice to see you. We put out the document on the four areas we want to explore partly to be clear that we want to have the conversation about increasing the independent side of things. But I recognise that the body of your question is about discussing as opposed to doing.
The important thing from our perspective in the remit that we hold for Olympic and Paralympic sport is the role the British Athletes Commission plays. We provide it with funding, but it acts very independently and it has an independent board. It is a completely independent organisation. We have increased its funding in the last cycle and we are likely to increase it again. We have given it very specific investment over the last year to support some of the things that have come out of gymnastics.
One of the important things about the British Athletes Commission that I feel has changed and have seen change over the last four or five years under the leadership of Vicky Aggar, another Paralympian, is that it has worked incredibly hard to develop relationships with governing bodies so that governing bodies encourage their athletes to go to the British Athletes Commission when they do not feel that they can raise something internally themselves. I feel confident that that is in place.
The challenge with elite sport, of course, is that it is contested space, and that makes for a highly complex environment to operate in. We know that another area where there is not enough in place at the moment is the staffing piece. At the moment, staff can go through their own HR processes within the organisations they work, but there is not a full enough equivalent on the British Athletes Commission. That is in the paper that we have shared.
I really hope that athletes will feel that they can speak out. I come from a sport background where I felt that athletes did speak out, either to us internally within the sport or to the British Athletes Commission. I know that that is not the case across every sport, which is why we are so determined to make sure that we get this right moving forwards.
Tim Hollingsworth: I have three very quick points to make in addition to Sally’s. First, I very much agree with you that we need to think about things that we can do now. We have sought to pilot with a number of sports and have invested in their ability to outsource the process more than they currently do. For some, safeguarding is an issue and they find that the potential capacity constraints on complaints is quite difficult to manage. We are supporting a pilot for sports to understand that if they can outsource to Sports Resolutions or others, that can help the process to look more fair and robust to the athletes concerned.
Secondly, we have definitely realised that we should give it more prominence in our relationship with and funding of sports. We will shortly post the review of the Code for Sports Governance, which will put safeguarding much more front and centre of our expectations for how governing body leadership will treat it.
I have made the classic mistake of saying three things and then momentarily forgetting the third, but it was not the most important one of the three. The most important thing right now is that we need to see what we should do practically to help the process to be as smooth and as respectful as possible. Outsourcing it to a third party is a good way forward.
Q212 The Earl of Devon: I will direct this question principally to Sally, because it relates to elite sports and development pathways. You mentioned your plans for a decade for extraordinary achievement with an agenda of diversity, ethics and sustainability, and you mentioned that your goal was to remove all barriers. Are elite pathways not simply too expensive? What impact does this have on efforts to improve diversity at elite levels, and what can be done about it?
Sally Munday: Thanks, that is a great question. We invest £500 million over Olympic and Paralympic cycles to make it affordable. The majority of Olympic and Paralympic sports are not sports where athletes will end up making millions that they can live on for the rest of their lives. The investment that we get—from the lottery, which is 60% of our money, and from the Exchequer, which is 40% of our money—we invest very wisely and very carefully to make sure that barriers are removed and that athletes can receive a grant to enable them to train full time to achieve their ambitions at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Part of our money goes into the top end of pathways. This is where, again, the collaboration is important between us and Sport England and the other home country sports councils so that we can invest further down in the pathways. We are seeing an increasing number of sports taking the pathway of their sport very seriously and looking at how they can remove barriers. Ultimately, if we want to have a British team that truly reflects our society, we have to make sure that participation in sport and the pathways truly reflect society. That is something that Tim and I and the other three sports councils are absolutely committed to, as you will probably have seen from the review we published last week on race and sport.
Q213 The Earl of Devon: In our Olympic success, we are often known for being very good at our sitting-down sports, and obviously the equipment on which you sit is expensive, whereas a lot of the sports and recreation activities are not expensive. Is there any ground to be made up in promoting the sports that do not require such expensive equipment to excel?
Sally Munday: There is a sense that we are particularly dominant in the sitting-down sports, but we have done pretty well in quite a few of the non-sitting-down sports as well. Part of what we want to do is to showcase where we are having success across the board. What we are also seeing, though, if I take the sitting-down sports as examples, is good commitment from those governing bodies to utilise their success to encourage and find ways of bringing new people into sport. Rowing is a good example of a massive programme in London to try to bring in people who would not otherwise get into rowing. It is taking equipment into schools and festivals and so on. Cycling is another sport where we are seeing huge investment in mass participation and grass-roots events to encourage people to take part and to make it as easy as possible for people to take part.
There is a role for us, and we would very much welcome the committee’s help in the continued investment in Olympic and Paralympic sport to enable us to keep broadening the sports that we are investing in. If you look at the Games that are coming up, some of the new sports we are investing in are skateboarding, climbing, basketball. There are some exciting new sports that will attract a whole range of different people into Olympic and Paralympic sport, and that is really exciting.
The Earl of Devon: Tim, as the feeder into the elite sports, can you comment briefly?
Tim Hollingsworth: I certainly can. It is a great question to ask of the two organisations together, because if that link is not there we are missing the absolute point of a high-performance system, which is that ultimately it is fed by the population it is representing. We have a lens for our talent investment, which is inclusion. We now see our desire to invest in talent from Sport England and the other home countries through the lens of inclusion.
We want the sports that are running those programmes to demonstrate to us how they are reaching audiences who previously felt less well served. That might be geographical. A significant proportion of the current team come from different parts of the country, often, dare I say it, from the home counties rather than in our inner cities. We have a very interesting level of investment there.
We have started to invest in programmes—for example, a partnership with the University of East London—that can reach out into the community with some of the traditional Olympic sports and try to break down exactly some of the barriers that Sally mentioned, such as in rowing. We have invested heavily in cricket with the ACE programme that Ebony Rainford-Brent is running, which is about getting young Afro-Caribbean males into playing cricket in their communities, because the system did not traditionally offer it up to them.
We are also looking very hard at what makes something exclusive: is it the sport, is it the expense, or is it the environment that those sports are creating either at grass roots or through the pathway? This comes back to our bigger conversation about our ambition as an organisation and a sector needing to be genuinely about making the environment for sport and physical activity feel fun, safe and inclusive. If we are not doing that, that is where the change needs to come.
Sally Munday: A fact that will probably make us all feel pretty proud is that we won more medals across more sports than any other nation at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. That is something of which we should feel proud. Our job is to make more of that success to have greater impact.
The Chair: Thank you. Lord Knight’s job is to end our proceedings today with the final question.
Q214 Lord Knight of Weymouth: Thank you very much. Are we getting the balance right between focusing on major events and medal success and increased participation? Also, with only a limited amount of funds, is that a zero-sum game? I will start with you, Tim. It was pointed out to us by one of our witnesses that the second most popular sport for participation among children and young people is basketball, as Sally mentioned just a moment ago, yet it was getting a sixth of the funding that lacrosse gets. What does that tell us about how seriously we take participation?
Tim Hollingsworth: There is definitely an emerging conversation about the difference between the historical model for investment, which was about the traditional organisations, and making sure that, for want of a better word, the supply is there.
The conversation that we are having now through Uniting the Movement is more about a demand-led approach, if I can use these terms. What are people, particularly young people, today looking to do and how can they fit it into their lives? A lot of the model that we had going back in time was very much based on a way of living lives and society that does not exist as easily at the moment. There are more informal sports—Sally has mentioned those that have made the Olympics—and understanding that for some young people engagement will be different from historical models. That is definitely one of the things that Towards an Active Nation started to change and which Uniting the Movement is starting to build on.
I also think that we should break the link directly between the idea that just because we are winning at the elite level more people will play that particular sport. We saw the real value of elite sport and high-performance sport last night; it is the way it connects, brings people together, makes us feel proud as a nation and inspires us to think about possibility. In my previous life—forgive me, Tanni—that was a core thing of the Paralympics: the understanding of the possible. That, in my view, was what our success at elite level generated.
There is also a much more sophisticated understanding now. The old view that, if we do well in a sport at an elite level, that automatically makes people want to go out and play that sport is less the issue. It goes far more to your point, Lord Knight, and it goes back to the data point as well, about truly understanding what young people particularly want to do and building a sporting sector to be proud of around that.
Q215 Lord Knight of Weymouth: Thank you. Sally, we have already heard that you totally believe and live the dream that major events and elite sport help to drive what Tim has just talked about. To probe a bit further, and assuming that you would give a warm answer, I am interested in the role of the stars, of the elite, or those who you fund as athletes and their commitment to engage with young people and the community. I noticed in your earlier report that there was a target of 85% doing at least one engagement per year and 50% at least five per year. That compares with professional football, in that we have heard that professional footballers in their contract do a number of hours per week. Are we doing enough, as part of funding, to use and contract those elite athletes to inspire young people and communities?
Sally Munday: You almost asked an either/or question at the beginning. In developing our new strategy, we did a huge public consultation and had a huge response, almost 5,000 respondents. The response was very clear that the public do not see this as either/or. Not wanting to embarrass Tim, but Sport England and participation get vastly more money at the moment than elite sport. That is probably right and as it should be, but the public consultation was very clear that it should not be either/or elite and grass roots.
It is probably also worth saying that the investment that we get—if you look back to previous figures, in 2017 the gross value added of Olympic and Paralympic sports in the UK was almost £25 billion—is bigger than agriculture, forestry and the fishing industry. Yes, there is investment but, boy, is it giving it back. It really is giving back. That is really important.
On what the athletes are doing, we could have a whole afternoon comparing what footballers do and get with what Olympic and Paralympic athletes do and get. It is important to know that since 2012 we have had about 36,000 athlete volunteering appearances. We know that we need to do more and that the generation of athletes coming into our high-performance system want to do this type of thing. They want to influence and have a positive impact on society.
We only have to look at what the boxers did recently, going into old people’s homes to talk to old people with dementia to relive experiences of the past, and what the synchronised swimmers did, doing a routine in a swimming pool full of plastic bottles to highlight the impact of environmental issues. We have a cohort of athletes who are committed to having a positive societal impact, and I am very confident with what they do.
When we get to a point in this society where our Olympic and Paralympic athletes earn the same as footballers, I will very happily put more stuff into their contracts to ask them to do more than we are currently asking them to do.
Lord Knight of Weymouth: Fair enough, thank you.
The Chair: On that note, we have reached the end of our time for today. I am delighted that we have got to this point, because I did not think we would at one stage. Can I thank enormously our two witnesses this afternoon? You have been a real tour de force in your areas of activity. Tim, I shall always remember you as the emerging question, and it will continue to be so, but there are a lot of emerging questions that clearly the committee also has to grasp and to try to make some proposals. Thank you for that. On that note, I thank Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, and Sally Munday, the CEO of UK Sport for your presence this afternoon and declare this session has now concluded. Thank you very much indeed.