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Unlocking the potential: How sport, recreation and physical activity can improve the health and wellbeing of the nation


What is the National Sector Partners Group (NSPG)?

The National Sector Partners Group comprises Active Partnerships, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), Local Government Association, Sport and Recreation Alliance, Sport for Development Coalition, Youth Sport Trust and ukactive.

Through our collaborative work as sector partners, we aim to engage decision makers to improve the operating landscape for the sector and embed sport, recreation and physical activity as a key contributor to wider public policy objectives.

The NSPG has produced the following report: ‘Unlocking the potential: How sport, recreation and physical activity can improve the health and wellbeing of the nation’, on the future growth and development of the sport, recreation, and physical activity sector. 

What is this report? 

This report aims to:

  • Propose a clear strategic vision for how to fully harness this sector to improve the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of the nation, and support our renewal as a country post pandemic.
  • Show how our sector is integral to successfully delivering a number of key Government priorities, including economic growth, Levelling Up, supporting the NHS, and Net Zero commitments.
  • Propose specific, systemic interventions encompassing improved evidence, access to investment, tax, legal and regulatory reform and wider policy changes that are the key to this happening.

Why has this report been produced? 

The report has been produced to help inform the Government and other decision makers in developing the right strategic approach for our sector. It has been produced by organisations from across the breadth of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector with in-depth knowledge of what is required to unleash the full potential this sector has to offer.

In the context of the ongoing refresh of the Government’s sport strategy ‘Sporting Future’ and the ‘School Sport and Activity Action Plan’, we believe this is the right time to make a positive and constructive contribution to the debate.

It is important any new government strategy builds on the foundations laid by Sport England’s strategy ‘Uniting the Movement’ and engages all levers of government to drive investment, reform and growth.

As leading representative voices across the sector, we are united in calling for fundamental change that will transform the role this essential sector can play in our national renewal.

We believe that ours is a sector that needs to be empowered, supported, and protected so that it can grow and realise its full societal potential.

We also firmly believe that, by working more collaboratively with all arms of government, sport, recreation and physical activity can make a far greater contribution to the key public policy challenges the Government now faces including ‘levelling up’, economic growth, net zero and supporting the NHS.

Indeed, senior health leaders have consistently called physical activity the ‘miracle cure’ which can tackle the growing burden of preventable illness.

We hope that this report can help shape the debate within Government and beyond and support constructive dialogue on the interventions we believe are needed to unlock the potential of our sector.

What is the report asking for? 

Fundamentally, we are asking for two key things with this report:

  • Firstly, securing a greater recognition of the enormous potential of sport, recreation and physical activity across Whitehall and for this to be connected explicitly to the delivery of key cross-Government priorities including levelling up, strengthening public services, economic growth and net zero.
  • Secondly, that the sector is given the right tools and operating environment to succeed. This means recognising we are a dynamic, interconnected economic sector which requires the same vision, investment and policy reform as any other. We have included specific examples of the kinds of policy interventions we feel are needed to unlock the potential of the sector.

We believe that if we can secure these changes, then we can accelerate constructive discussions on delivering the reforms set out in the report that will create positive change for both our sector and wider society.