Sport and Recreation Alliance – Supplementary written evidence (NPS0138)




The Sport and Recreation Alliance is the representative body for the sport and recreation sector, with a diverse membership of more than 300 national and local organisations. As the voice of the sector, the Alliance works with Government, policy makers and the media to make sure grassroots sport and recreation grows and thrives.


The Alliance’s Chief Executive, Lisa Wainwright gave detailed oral evidence to the Committee on Wednesday 9 December 2020. As such, the purpose of this supplementary written submission is to draw the Committee’s attention to a number of recommendations which build on some of the key points raised in our oral evidence.


Key recommendations


  1. In summary we would make the following key recommendations:




A coordinated, whole-of-government approach to sport, recreation and physical activity


  1. Recent research commissioned by Sport England confirms that community sport, recreation and physical activity delivers £85bn in social and economic value and supports over 285,000 jobs.[1] Around £72bn of these benefits are through improved physical and mental health and wellbeing, educational attainment, community cohesion and reductions in crime.[2] Every £1 spent on sport, recreation and physical activity delivers £4 in social and economic value.[3]


  1. The sector therefore delivers against a number of key public policy goals across national and local government: reducing inequalities in health, supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people, driving employment and productivity and achieving net zero carbon. In addition, the government is committed to a broader levelling up agenda which, among other things, is designed to tackle inequality by spreading investment and opportunity more consistently across the country. However, it remains the case that the sector’s current and potential future contribution in these areas is not yet fully reflected in policy or funding decisions.


  1. In this context, Sport England’s new strategy Uniting the Movement is an important milestone and provides a crucial platform on which to build. The strategy sets an ambition to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity and to tackling longstanding and deep-rooted inequalities which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.  However, while Sport England plays a central role in the sector as funder and enabler, it can only have limited influence over wider policy levers – legislative, regulatory and fiscal which are typically controlled by central and local government.


  1. As such, the recovery from COVID-19 provides the opportunity for a reset. We believe this would be best achieved through a national plan which would represent a new ‘social contract’ with sport, recreation and physical activity. Such a plan would encompass a revised whole-of-government approach to policy and investment and, through this framework, make sport, recreation and physical activity central to achieving key public policy goals at both national and local level.


Outcomes, measurement and accountability


  1. The government’s 2015 strategy Sporting Future outlines an ambition that investment should be directed towards achieving improvements in five outcomes: physical health, mental health, individual development, social and community development and economic development. These outcomes are underpinned by 25 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measured through a variety of mechanisms. 


  1. While this is a useful framework, the outcomes themselves are high-level and the KPIs are large in number, diffuse and have not been recently updated so that overall it is difficult to definitively assess whether or not the strategy has achieved its intended objectives.[4] To enable a more effective and accurate measurement of the impact of investment, we believe any new national plan should therefore ensure that:





  1. In support of this, it is essential that there are clear and effective mechanisms to hold stakeholders to account for delivery. As an example, Sporting Future set out a requirement to produce a formal annual report to Parliament outlining progress against the strategy’s objectives.[5] Whilst some reporting has previously taken place, the last formal report was published in January 2018 and therefore it is arguable that current mechanisms do not provide sufficient scrutiny or enable government and ministers to be held properly to account for delivery.[6] We therefore believe new and more innovative accountability mechanisms should be included as part of any new national plan.


Policy innovation


  1. Looking ahead we believe government could and should consider more innovative and flexible approach to policy to support the sector and better enable it to achieve the wider public policy outcomes set out above. Many of these policy approaches have been applied already in different domestic sectors and/or could be adapted based on models in use overseas.


  1. Short term policy options include:



  1. Longer term policy options include:








Sport and Recreation Alliance


17 February 2021


[1] Sport England/Sheffield Hallam University, Social and Economic Value of Community Sport and Physical Activity in England:

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Sporting Future: Second Annual Report – measurement dashboard:

[5] Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation:

[6] Sporting Future: Second Annual Report:

[7] For more information on these funds see Spending Review 2020: