Economic development

In the past, the economic value of sport has been looked at completely separately to the other benefits sport can deliver

Young people playing football outside

A significant proportion of the £39 billion sport contributes to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from grassroots sport: the millions of people who buy trainers, bikes, gym memberships or pay match fees. The government’s investment of £10 million in the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014 helped unlock a £125m contribution to GDP, so the UK’s economic success is bound up with our sporting engagement, and vice versa.

The economic impact of sport, how it creates jobs, promotes growth and drives exports is a fundamental part of this new strategy. We ask organisations to consider not just how they contribute to the nation’s health or wellbeing, but to the economy as well, both nationally and locally.

Successful economic development is measured by the economic value of sport to the UK economy.

To help measure the impact of sport and activity on economic development, we'll use our Active Lives Adult Survey

The Evidence

There is some evidence on the direct impact of the sport sector on the economy (largely in terms of gross value added or job creation), and more evidence on the indirect impact of participation in sport and physical activity on the economy (reduced healthcare costs due to a healthier population, reduced crime, and improved employability).

Only a small number of sources look at the economic value to the UK or local economies of sports as an industry, for example the value of gyms, clubs and other facilities; of clothing and retail; of spectating/broadcasting of non-major events.


Given the intrinsic link between UK’s economic success and it's sporting activity, we're in support of organisations who wish to create their own project for the use of sport to increase economic development.

Creating your own project for economic development

We have created a tool to help evaluate the effectiveness of your own economic development project. The Sport England evaluation framework has been developed to evaluate funding streams and projects effectively and help you get maximum value from measurement and evaluation (M&E).

It's designed to provide users with easy-to-follow guidance and resources to help you develop your own approach to measuring and evaluating work undertaken. Building the six steps of the framework into programme planning and implementation will assist users in getting the most from M&E.

What your project could achieve

  • Employability and employment
  • Sport tourism
  • Health sector savings
  • Economic value of crime reduction
  • Increased economic activity
  • Savings through prevention of public sector spending.

Things your project could include

  • Saving public money through prevention
  • Creating jobs and volunteering
  • Increasing productivity of a workforce
  • Generating economic activity (eg tourism, construction, events)
  • Increasing spending and/or revenues.

Get in touch

Details of our available funds can be found here.

If you've got a project or an idea that impacts on economic development and you want to share it with us, please email, or call us on 0345 850 8508.