Government teams up with sport stars to launch new physical activity drive

The Government will join forces with former sports stars, health professionals and fitness experts to help an additional 3.5 million adults and children get physically active by 2030, as part of a major national activity drive.

Appointed by the Prime Minister and Culture Secretary, the new National Physical Activity Taskforce will be led by the Culture Secretary, Lucy Frazer, Sports Minister Stuart Andrew and former England Rugby Union international Ugo Monye as an independent co-chair.

It comes as part of the Government’s new sport strategy. ‘Get Active: A strategy for the future of sport and physical activity’ sets out a blueprint to improve the nation’s health and fitness, enhance corporate governance in the sport sector and make it more resilient to future challenges at elite and grassroots level.

The new participation targets - to have over 2.5 million more active adults and over 1 million more active children by 2030 - are intended to reach people of all ages and backgrounds, and meet the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidance that:

  • Adults should aim to carry out at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week
  • Children should aim to carry out at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day

Figures from the Sport England Active Lives Survey indicate that 25% of adults are currently deemed to be ‘inactive’ in England, with over 11 million doing less than 30 minutes of activity in total a week. Meanwhile figures indicate that 53% of children and young people are not meeting the CMO’s guidance of at least 60 minutes of activity a day - with 23% being fairly active, but 30% doing less than 30 minutes a day.

NHS statistics from 2021-2022 indicate that almost a quarter (23%) of year 6 children were obese in England, an increase of 3% from 2018-19, the last figures recorded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic - making a national activity drive all the more important.

As part of this new strategy, the expert taskforce will advise on how to deliver on these targets, challenge how ambitions are being delivered and hold the Government, National Governing Bodies, the physical activity sector and schools to account for delivering the targets at both the national and local level.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “As Culture Secretary I want to increase opportunities for everyone to find the sport or activity that they love, which will help them be healthy and happy. Whether that’s playing with friends on the basketball court, getting on your bike or working out in your living room we want everybody to find a sport or physical activity for them.

“Our new taskforce, jointly led with Ugo Monye, will work across government and the sports industry to turn these ambitious targets into a reality, helping to break down barriers to help people enjoy the benefits of getting active.

“Through our support for school sports and our continuing investment of millions of pounds in facilities in local communities across the country we are making sure that people have welcoming and accessible places where they can get active.”

It is the first sport strategy to be published since 2015, and builds upon the Government’s record investment of almost £400 million in grassroots facilities, including in multi-sport facilities, swimming pools and park tennis courts, to ensure communities across the country have access to high quality, safe facilities.

This is alongside investment of over £600 million for school sport and PE over the next two years, with a focus on making it clear that girls have the same access as boys, building on the success of the Lionesses at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 last year and in their recent FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 campaign.

The strategy also sets the vision for the future of the sector in the country. The Government is clear that sport needs to be a welcoming, inclusive and fair environment that participants and their parents or guardians can have confidence in.

In light of this, a call for evidence is being launched on current experiences of how issues and concerns in sport across the UK are dealt with in the sector, and how these could be strengthened. The call for evidence is open to participants in sport, parents and guardians, coaches, athlete support personnel, sports governing bodies, academics and other relevant stakeholders.

The new sport strategy also seeks to ensure that the sector moves towards a more sustainable future, both financially and environmentally.

It follows the Government providing more than £1 billion in financial support to the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department will also continue to work with UK Sport, host cities and sporting bodies to bid for, and successfully host, major sporting events that deliver significant socio-economic benefit across the UK, to maintain our world-leading track record in this area. DCMS will commission additional analysis of the economic value of these events to support future decision making. It follows the recent success of England hosting UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and the Rugby League World Cup.

The Government’s Gold Framework guidance has been updated to help DCMS and UK Sport work successfully with the sector to keep bringing the world’s biggest and best major sporting events to the UK. It comes at a time when the UK and Ireland are bidding to host UEFA EURO 2028, with a decision due later this year.

These events are a core element of the Government’s strategy to not only provide significant benefits across the country, but inspire people to get more active, and create the next generation of sports stars.

DCMS will also champion the importance of the sector prioritising the development of its own environmental sustainability initiatives and encourage the sharing of best practice from across sport and physical activity.

This is expected to help the sector to deliver on UK Sport’s goal for high-performance sport to be having a net positive impact on the environment by 2040, and for sport national governing bodies to have reduced their emissions by 50% by 2030.

Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England’s chief executive, said: “The government’s new sport strategy, with its strong focus on increasing participation and ensuring sport and physical activity is accessible to everyone regardless of background or postcode, is hugely welcome and comes at an important time for our sector.

“It is a highly ambitious document that clearly understands the role activity can play in the health and wellbeing of our nation, and how sport can be a force for good by reducing pressures on the NHS, improving educational attainment and bringing our communities together.

“The new strategy places significant importance on tackling inequalities, which ties in well with Uniting the Movement, our own long-term commitment to ensuring everyone, no matter their circumstances, has the chance to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being active.

“We welcome the inclusion of ambitious overall targets for participation, and the acknowledgement that no single organisation can deliver the scale of change needed. Instead, this strategy will require significant and sustained commitment across the public and private sector.

“The recognition that a new, cross-government focus to better coordinate departments is key to unlocking these benefits is also welcome, as is the commitment to strengthening integrity in sport and the determination in particular to ensure welfare and safeguarding issues are dealt with and best practice promoted.

“Some serious consideration of reform is vital; especially given the high-profile examples and challenges we have seen across multiple sports in recent years. Working through all the options must be a priority now if we are to ensure that sport is a safe and welcoming environment for all.

“We welcomed the opportunity to work closely with the government on the creation of this strategy and will be equally committed now alongside our partners to helping to bring its ambitions to life.”

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