Council funding for sport declines as physical activity stagnates

It is thought the expected boost from the 2014 Commonwealth Games has not had yet had an effect.
It is thought the expected boost from the 2014 Commonwealth Games has not had yet had an effect.
Have your say

MSPs SAY they are disappointed after a report found local council funding for sport reduced by 6.2 per cent in just six years.

It comes as the parliamentary report found the number of Scots taking part in sport or physical activity has stagnated.

Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee said it was disappointed by a lack of progress despite £500 million a year of public funds being channelled into physical recreation.

With councils footing around £400 million of this, MSPs highlighted evidence of a real terms fall in the local government revenue budget of 6.2 per cent between 2010/11 and 2016/17, with a further 2.2 per cent drop expected between 2016/17 and 2017/18 on a like-for-like basis. The committee’s report noted that net revenue spending on sport related 
services has reduced since 2014/15.

Last week the Evening News revealed that Sports clubs across the Capital are worried for the future if council plans to charge Edinburgh Leisure for ground maintenance services are given the go ahead as part of new budget proposals.

The cash-strapped administration is planning to slash Edinburgh Leisure’s funding by as much as £420,000 and aims to raise a further £375,000 by charging it for the upkeep of both indoor and outdoor facilities.

It called on the Scottish Government to set out the impact of pressures on local government budgets on sporting participation rates “given the prominent role of local government in delivering sports services, and the increased charges at a local level to participate”.

Convener Neil Findlay MSP said: “The variety of sports and physical activity on offer in communities is a real testament to the efforts and dedication of sport and community groups. We recognise the hard work that is going on to try and improve and expand participation rates.

“However, we are disappointed that overall participation figures have remained fairly stagnant over the past decade. In fact, we found that many of the issues raised during this inquiry have been raised before.

“The committee believes these findings show how wide ranging decisions and initiatives across different portfolios taken at both governmental and local level can have wider impacts.

“We look forward to a response from the Scottish Government to tell us what its plans are to increase participation rates and to hear what lessons have been learned over the past decade”.

The Chief Medical Office physical activity guidelines are for adults to achieve 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise a week, 150 minutes of moderate intensity or a combination of both.

Figures show that in 2015 the proportion of adults meeting this was 63 per cent, the same as in 2014 and similar to previous years.

The report calls for activities to be available in a wider range of venues and settings and for communities to be more closely involved in initiatives to boost participation. MSPs also recommended steps to encourage more role models to inspire particular groups and an increase in the number of volunteers across Scotland.