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First Base is the equivalent of an 'Editorial'. It is the opportunity for S & A to provide comment and provoke discussion on topical issues relating to leisure and tourism. This will be provided each month and we would welcome your feedback on the matters raised.

First Base 17: Wither sport in the UK

Date: 20/5/2004

As we all try to come to terms with the horrors of last week’s terrorist attacks on the USA, sport, amongst so many other aspects of everyday life, will take on a different perspective.

Perhaps we will realise the importance of sports participation to the overall enhancement of our quality of life. In the words of Prime Minister, Tony Blair just 12 months ago...” Investing in sport is not just sports policy. Its health policy, education policy, anti-crime policy and anti-drugs policy".

It is perhaps surprising to report, therefore, that last year the Exchequer invested less in British sport than most other European countries. Funding per head on sport in England last year was £1.00 compared to £12.10 in Norway, £9.70 in Finland and even £1.40 in Poland.

Interestingly within the four home nations England also does least well:

England spends £1.00 on sport per head of population
Wales spends £2.70
Scotland spends £2.20
N Ireland spends £1.60

In the current financial year sport represents just 5% of the DCMS budget.... it appears that they can spend £238m on the arts and just £52m on sport. Yet, ironically, according to Deloitte and Touche, the Government receives four times more money from sport in taxes than is re-invested through either central or local government.

For many years successive Governments have propounded the benefits of sport on the health and quality of life of the population... isn’t it about time they started putting the money in where it really matters. This means not allowing us to be seduced by the artificiality in the funding equation caused by the availability of Lottery funds.

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