Vision for sporting future outlined by the government

Posted by Catherine Flitcroft on 17/12/2015
A family enjoying the delights of the outdoors. Photo: Shutterstock: Copyright: altanaka.

The BMC welcomes the publication of the Government’s new sport strategy, Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation. We take a look at the key headlines from this document.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has announced plans to get Britain more active, while also promoting good governance and safety.  The strategy, Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation, seeks to redefine what success looks like not simply through participation in traditional sports but though the delivery of more outdoor recreation focused targets.  The strategy specifically targets inactivity, under-represented groups, young people, and the social value of sport. It also outlines greater support for high-performance ‘non-Olympic’ sports. Overall, it outlines five key outcomes:

  1. Physical wellbeing
  2. Mental wellbeing
  3. Individual development
  4. Social and community development
  5. Economic development

Importantly for the BMC, the document recognises the important role of outdoor recreation and natural features in getting more people active alongside ‘non-traditional’ sports and physical activity as well as the economic value of outdoor tourism. The document also sets out further pledges which are outlined below (these have been taken directly from Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation):

  • Because we want everyone to get the best possible experience of sport from the earliest possible age, we are broadening Sport England’s remit so that it becomes responsible for sport outside school from the age of five, rather than 14.
  • We will also work to enhance the contribution of sport to the economy, we will establish a Sports Business Council to develop a new business strategy that helps support growth, improve access to finance and develop skills in the Sport Sector.
  • If this new strategy is to work effectively, all parts of government must work more closely together towards clear, shared outcomes.
  • Consultation responses from a range of organisations stressed that national bodies working with strong local partnerships added value and economies of scale and that the local support from national bodies is vital to success.
  • To help improve coordination and the sharing of best practice among each of the devolved administrations and the UK Government, the ‘Sport Cabinet’ will be re-established. It will bring together the four sports ministers who represent Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and both England and the UK as a whole.
  • All new government funding for sport and physical activity will go to organisations which can best demonstrate that they will deliver some or all of the five outcomes in this strategy.
  • ‘Active Lives’ will replace the current ‘Active People Survey’
  • As announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement, the government will launch a consultation at Budget 2016 on how to expand support that can be given to grassroots sport through the corporation tax system.

Outdoor recreation

The UK is fortunate to have some of the best countryside and outdoor space in the world, where people can take part in a wide variety of activities, many of which have not necessarily been supported as much as other more traditional sports. This needs to change if we are to provide a variety of different opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity that meets the demand from the customer, rather than telling them what type of activity we think they should be doing. Outdoor activities are also a vital part of the tourist economy across the UK, so the benefits stretch beyond just those who take part.

In order to deliver the most for this sector, Sport England will need to work with organisations it has not traditionally worked with on outdoor recreation. It will also need to bring together partnerships to deliver the broader objectives set out in this strategy as well as helping to build capacity within the sector.

Outdoor Infrastructure

We recognise that people are active outdoors in both urban and rural environments. This can range from parks, canals and open green spaces to parkour sites and skate parks. Access to local urban opportunities is particularly important for those individuals who are currently inactive and want to get started doing ‘something’ outdoors, as we know that they tend not to travel more than two miles from their homes. Providing outdoor recreation opportunities to suit these people will help to make these experiences a success. This includes capitalising on the development of high quality local access networks, such as footpaths and pavements.

Related to this, we need to ensure that support for sport and physical activity infrastructure is not restricted to pitches, sports halls and buildings. In future, the definition should be drawn more widely, to include all types of places where people take part in activity, including both rural and urban environments. Providing people with the freedom to use existing facilities and spaces and keeping them in good repair is as important as building new infrastructure.

Better working with DEFRA

While DCMS has a strong interest in getting people active in all settings, including outdoor recreation, we recognise that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has policy responsibility in England for the ‘fabric’ of the natural landscape, including rights of way, the England coastal path and National Parks. Given our joint interest in this area, DCMS and Defra will continue to work together to ensure the potential of our natural capital (including rights of way, canal and river paths, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, accessible forests and open spaces) to meet physical activity needs is met. Other departments also have a role in encouraging outdoor activity, for example the Department for Transport (DfT) in delivering walking and cycling infrastructure or the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in relation to urban green spaces and parks. These departments will also be linked in to this work.

Adventure Activities Licensing Authority

To support the outdoors activities sector and to give government and Sport England a clearer policy role in encouraging outdoor activities, responsibility for the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) is likely to move from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to DCMS and the organisation will be reformed to make its focus the active encouragement of greater levels of outdoor activity, beyond simply its licensing.

New roles for Sport England

We will broaden Sport England’s role from measuring and supporting sport to measuring and supporting both sport and certain kinds of physical activity, including cycling, dancing and walking.

We will, via Sport England, also establish new competitive funding designed specifically to get inactive people to be more physically active

In addition, Sport England, UK Sport and NGBs will work together to reward existing / regular volunteers with ‘gold ticket’ opportunities to volunteer at major events.

Other key points of the strategy include:

  • Continue to invest in Primary PE and Sport Premium;
  • Assessment of effectiveness of future priorities of School Games and School Games Organisers;
  • Sport England to develop a new coaching plan by 2016, covering qualifications and standards;
  • New volunteering strategy for sport and physical activity in 2016;
  • Establishment of Social Impact Fund for investment into sport;
  • Development of business strategy for sport and physical activity sector;
  • Review of ‘Use our School’ guidance in 2016;
  • Sport England to develop workforce strategy in 2016;
  • Work to tackle lack of diversity in senior positions across the sport sector;
  • Review of barriers to women and minority groups progressing into high performance coaching roles;
  • Large sports organisations to utilise apprenticeships;
  • Establishment of Independent Working Group on a new Duty of Care for participants in sport, chaired by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Next steps

The strategy now provides the BMC with a framework to continue to work with Sport England and Government in the interests of climbing, hill walking, mountaineering and their participants, and to continue to lobby for outdoor recreation.


The Access and Conservation Trust

The BMC's charity  the BMC Access & Conservation Trust  promotes sustainable access to cliffs, mountains and open countryside by facilitating education and conservation projects across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

By educating climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy outdoor recreation while minimising their impact on the landscape, conserving the UK’s upland resources, and campaigning for improved access rights, ACT enables future generations to continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the physical, mental and social benefits they bring to individual lives and society in general.

READ: More about the recent work of ACT

WATCH: the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign film


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