Following the publication of the government's Levelling Up White Paper today, our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth has issued a statement.
The paper details 12 levelling up missions - two of which are narrowing the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy between the areas where it's highest and lowest, and improving the wellbeing of every area in the country - with the gap between the areas currently rated for wellbeing and other areas, decreasing.
One of the key factors in making these missions a reality will be the same as the mission of our Uniting the Movement strategy - making sport and physical activity a normal part of life for everyone in the country.
Sport and physical activity has much wider benefits for society too, including connecting communities and creating a sense of pride, reducing social isolation and bringing in new skills and job opportunities to boost the economy, which is why it has a vital role to play in levelling up.
Tim's statement reads: “Sport and physical activity has a central role to play in levelling up – especially tackling health inequalities in communities and improving long-term health and wellbeing outcomes.
“We welcome that these are areas identified by the government as ones to focus on.
“Sport England has been heavily investing in tackling inequalities through sport and physical activity as set out in our 10-year Uniting the Movement strategy, with the majority of our funding going to the least affluent half of the country.
“We’re already working in the heart of communities and we will be expanding our place-based partnerships as we focus disproportionately on the communities and people who face the most barriers to activity.
“Our annual Active Lives Survey is the nation’s largest survey into the physical activity habits and behaviours of the nation and gives us the most comprehensive view of where we need to focus our efforts.
“Our research also shows that every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity generates nearly £4 for the English economy and society, including large savings for health and social care through the prevention of serious physical and mental health conditions.
“We look forward to working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to identify where sport and physical activity can be used as a lever to level up, working with communities to support improved health and wellbeing, furthering social connections and bringing new skills and job opportunities as we recover from the pandemic.”