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  • 24 July 2014 00:00
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Labour unveil plans to boost community sport

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Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman has launched a new policy consultation on how more people of all ages and backgrounds can be supported to take part in sport and physical activity.

The consultation document called "More Sport for All” examines a range of policy ideas designed to shape a long term strategy and support community sport.

One of the key ideas being explored is a proper levy on the Premier League’s revenue from the sale of their television rights, meaning that the Premier League would contribute more money to help develop grassroots football.

Labour has also suggested a new levy on sports betting to support community sport and help raise awareness about problem gambling.

In addition, Labour has call for a minimum of two hours of sport for every primary school child, which Labour highlight that they originally introduced before it was axed by the Coalition Government. 

Other ideas include tough new targets for increasing female participation in sport and upping the women on the boards of top sporting organisations as well as an overarching ten-year National Strategy for Sport.

The plans illustrate what sport may look like if Labour comes into Government in the 2015 General Election. 

"We were all proud to host the Olympics and Paralympic Games in London two years ago but instead of seeing increased participation, things have got worse especially amongst young people as a result of the government axing School Sports Partnerships,” Harman explained at an event for sports stakeholders at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

"Labour wants to help everybody to do more sport and physical activity – from children to the elderly, girls and well as boys and people from all backgrounds and regions.

"Our consultation looks at a number of ideas which aim to boost investment in community and grassroots sports by getting tough with the Premier League and betting companies, bringing back two hours of sport at schools a week and encouraging more people to take part – girls as well as boys.

"We need strong government leadership to create a long term innovative plan for sport and that is what this consultation seeks to do.”

The levy on Premier League’s TV venues comes after the League agreed a 5% voluntary levy on TV revenues to develop grassroots football back in 2001. 

But over the years, the League has been criticised over what they count towards this levy and as a result, the sums going to grassroots have fallen short. 

Labour is consulting on the need for greater transparency about the sums that the Premier League receives in TV revenues and then puts into grassroots sport to ensure that the 5% target is hit.
With regard to the levy on sports betting, Labour wants businesses that make money from sport should contribute to sport.

At present there is a levy on the gross profits made by betting companies from betting on horse racing which goes to support horse racing and amounted to £82 million in 2014. 

Labour is consulting on whether to introduce a similar levy on all sports betting, including online betting, to fund support for problem gambling and to improve community sports facilities and clubs.

Labour’s school sports plan comes after the last Labour Government introduced two hours of sport into schools and it had positive results. 

Michael Gove, as Education Secretary, axed these two hours and stopped collecting data on participation through the PE and Sport Survey while he also stopped funding for the School Sports Partnerships.

Under a Labour Government, every primary school child would receive two hours of PE and sport a week while they have also promised to bring back the survey so they can chart progress and consider if there should be more stretching guidelines set in the future.

With regard to women’s sport, Labour is consulting on tough new targets on women and girls’ participation which Sport England would have to meet while there are also looking at to ensure sports governing bodies have more women on their Boards. 

Finally, plans for a ten-year National Strategy for Sport come as Labour say that the Coalition Government has shown poor leadership and lack vision for sustainable sport in the community. 

Labour say grassroots organisations often find it difficult to navigate the funding they need from different Government departments and would benefit from a more long term and joined up approach across Whitehall which also links in with local authorities and the national governing bodies. 

Labour claims that it is consulting on a ten-year national strategy for sport in the community which will be backed up by plans drawn up by local sports networks.

"If we are going to get more people active then we have to empower the people who do most of the work in our communities to have more influence over how we plan, organise and deliver sport and physical education at local level,” said Labour’s Shadow Minister for Sport Clive Efford.

"Increasing participation is not something that can be dictated from central government. We have to agree on a long term set of objectives and then all play our part in achieving them.”

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