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Sport England aims to tackle physical inactivity with funding shake-up

Sport England has launched what it has described as one of its most significant funding shake-ups in decades, with £250m set to reach deprived regions whose residents have some of the UK’s lowest physical activity levels. This will happen over the next five years. 

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14th November 2023

The organization has said that the investment – to come from budgets already in place – would target dozens of local communities (80 to 100 of them in all) in a bid to tackle the ‘manifestly unfair’ inequalities which present barriers to participation in sport. 

At the same time, fresh research shows that the areas of England where people are most active have levels of physical activity (81%) that are nearly twice as high as in the poorest areas (43%). 

Inactive Adults in England

Around one in four adults in England is now classed as inactive, with over 11m people not managing half an hour of physical activity in total every week. Equally, figures show that more than half (53%) of children and young people are not meeting minimum guidelines of participating in at least an hour’s daily exercise. 

And, depending on where in the country you live, lifespan can vary by up to a startling nine years. 

Now Sport England has launched ‘local delivery pilots’ in a dozen of Britain’s least active, most deprived areas. 

Its chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth, told the BBC that access to sport in England was ‘still not close to being a level playing field’, as he pledged to address the inequalities ‘unashamedly’ and ‘as a real priority’. 

To do this, the organisation’s Place Partnership programme will focus resources where it is felt they are most needed. 

Earlier this year, the government unveiled a fresh initiative aimed at making 3.5m more people physically active by 2030. A million children were included within this target. And sports minister Stuart Andrew insisted that Sport England’s £250m investment would help make this aim a reality. 

However, many favour a more radical overhaul and greater investment in the sector. That’s not least due to: 

  • Concerns over the condition of many existing leisure facilities
  • Declining levels of sport and PE in schools over the last 10 years
  • The ongoing impact of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis on the ability to exercise, since many can no longer afford gym memberships or need to work more hours to make ends meet

New research from the charity Sported reveals that among its 3,000 community groups UK-wide, more than 90% said they worried about the impact of current economic pressures.

And, as the chief executive of Active Partnerships said to the BBC: “While 80 to 100 places is fantastic, it’s still only 80 to 100 places. There needs to be a long-term plan.” 

How an outdoor gym can help

At Fresh Air Fitness, we share many of the concerns over the high levels of inactivity and widely varying access to exercise opportunities across the country, so we welcome the new initiatives while recognising that much remains to be done. An outdoor gym can help your local community or group drastically improve activity levels and get people moving again, in an enjoyable, cost-effective way.

We can help with our high-quality outdoor gym equipment and on how to apply for funding to pay for it. What’s more, everything we supply is fully compliant with all relevant legislation and thoroughly safe, plus all pieces come with a warranty of up to 25 years and suit all ages, abilities and fitness levels. 

Once installed we continue to support the community with expert advice about using it, including a free app with workout guidelines for all abilities and a library of instructional videos on YouTube.

We’ve worked with parks, schools, rec grounds and others – and we could help you, too. Get in touch today to learn more. 

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