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02 Feb 2018

Government’s sport report overlooks cuts to Healthy Pupil programme
BY Rob Gibson

Tracey Crouch (left) said she intends to focus on mental health this year, but others have urged more focus on obesity and physical activity too

Tracey Crouch (left) said she intends to focus on mental health this year, but others have urged more focus on obesity and physical activity too
photo: Matt Crossick/PA Wire/PA Images

A progress report on the government’s Sporting Future strategy has been overshadowed by the omission of more than £300m in cuts to a programme for boosting pupil’s health.

While sports minister Tracey Crouch told Parliament there had been “good progress on a number of fronts” since the plan was introduced, her latest report failed to detail changes to the Healthy Pupil Capital Programme.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance released a statement highlighting the issue. “The Childhood Obesity Strategy is an example of where, despite some progress, the physical activity recommendations are yet to come to fruition 18 months on from the publication of the strategy and although the report highlights an additional £100m into the Healthy Pupil Capital Programme, it fails to reference that this is over £300m less than was originally announced,” it said.

“If we are to address the huge challenge of obesity it’s clear that government needs to further prioritise continued investment into physical activity and sport."

In February 2017, the Department for Education announced a Healthy Pupils Capital Fund of £415m, generated by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, would be invested in facilities to support sports, after-school activities and promote healthy eating.

But in July it said £315m of this fund would be used to address school cash shortages, leaving £100m and raising complaints the money had not been ringfenced.

The latest report does note that in September separate funding under the Primary PE and Sport Premium scheme came into effect, which had earlier been doubled from £160m to £320m a year.

It also lists successes including Sport England’s investment of more than £530m in over 2,500 projects over the past 20 months, the formation of the Sports Business Council, new anti-doping recommendations and Tanni Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care report.

“We’re ensuring our governing bodies have world-leading standards of governance as well as targeting funding to encourage new participants in sport and physical activity,” said Crouch.

“There’s still more work to do. This year I will particularly focus on mental health in sport and encouraging the sector to continue to step up on safeguarding all participants – from the grassroots to the elite.”



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