Chancellor ‘breaks promise to sports’

06 December 2006

The listing was posted by The Central Council of Physical Recreation

Gordon Brown’s apparent decision to ignore the pleas of grassroots sport in his pre-Budget report renege on a specific pledge the Chancellor made to the public only weeks ago, according to sport and recreation’s umbrella body, CCPR.

In an article written by the Chancellor in the Daily Mail on October 25, Brown explicitly promised to use today’s report to concentrate more of the Government’s time and resources on sport, particularly amongst children.

The article, unveiling the Chancellor’s new “vision for increasing young people’s participation in sport by 2012”, outlined how he would “set out in the pre-budget report how we can do better with a new focus on sports and fitness for our nation's children.” However, in his announcement at the Dispatch Box this afternoon, sport came off third best to consideration of other matters, including children’s toys and film piracy.

The absence of an announcement will come as a great disappointment to those working within grassroots and community sport, whose governing bodies are keen to make the most of the opportunities the build-up to the London’s Olympic in 2012 will present. They saw the pre-Budget report as a chance for the Government to re-establish its community sport credentials by providing the investment that many believe is necessary to get more people into active lifestyles on the back of the Games.

Tim Lamb, CCPR Chief Executive, expressed dismay at what he views as a missed opportunity after CCPR had lobbied over recent months for a number of specific fiscal reforms for the sector:

“We keep on hearing that ministers are committed to sport and recreation, but where is the evidence? This was a golden opportunity for the Chancellor to put his money where his mouth is – we heard a lot about the healthy state of the Exchequer’s coffers but nothing about how he is going to make the most of the chance the Olympics give us to get more people into sport and physical recreation to improve the health of the nation.

“But today is more than a missed opportunity - it is also a broken promise. Gordon Brown made a specific and public pledge to address this issue only a few weeks ago but now it seems it has slipped his mind altogether. There are only six Budgets between now and the Olympics and each one that passes without any new investment in community sport is an indictment of ministers’ commitment to use the Games as an inspiration to the public.

“Amongst all the feuding about Olympic budgets and cost over-runs it seems that the word ‘sport’  has been almost completely forgotten.”