Comprehensive Spending Review details emerge

Given the scale

On October 20, Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review in the House of Commons.The decisions taken by himself, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury would, he said, bring Britain “back from the brink”.

He announced public spending cuts totalling £83 billion over the next five years, starting with £23 billion in 2011 which he hopes, if coupled with a strong economic recovery, will completely eradicate the defecit by the end of the current Parliament.

Given the scale of cuts in welfare (£18 billion) in total since the Election, policing and defence, sports minister Hugh Robertson had already told CCPR that our sector would have to shoulder some of the burden. Although it will take a while to deliver a full analysis of the spreadsheets and navigate our way through the politics to the real detail, we now know the broad departmental funding reductions and can offer some initial anaylsis.

While considering DCMS cuts, it is worth noting that they will in part by offset by the return of the National Lottery to its original pillars.That will restore sport’s 20% share, bringing in an extra £50million a year.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The DCMS has enjoyed a budget of £1.6 billion .Around £160 million goes directly to sport.The Chancellor announced the following:

  • 25% cut to DCMS and its sponsored bodies over the next 5 years, with administrative cuts of 41%.
  • The Department itself will halve in size
  • •Sport England’s budget will shrink by 33%
  • UK Sport’s budget will shrink by 28%
  • Whole Sport Plans and Elite Athlete Funding will be protected, but will still by cut by up to 15%
  • The UK Anti-Doping Agency’s budget will be cut by 19%
  • £9.3 billion budget for the Olympics will be protected (though the stadium’s £20 million wrap around will be diverted to pay for security at the Games)

Hugh Robertson has said he would rather do fewer things very well than top slice all of the Department’s activities. Some peripheral programmes will therefore be cancelled, as we have already seen with free swimming, but as yet we are not in a position to know exactly what else is at risk.

Sport England:

  • Sport England will have to absorb cuts of 33% by 2014/15
  • Sport England will reduce its administration costs by 50% over the same period
  • Revenue funding for NGBs will be protected until March 2013
  • Sport England will also have to absorb a cut of 40% to its capital budget, which will affect NGBs more immediately.

UK Sport:

  • UK Sport has received a settlement which means a 28% cut over four years
  • UK sport will continue to fund athletes as planned up until 2012
  • UK Sport has been given a number of other priorities for the coming four years. They include:
  • UK Sport to consider how to work better together with NGBs and other organisations to lever additional private sector funding into Olympic and Paralympic sport alongside public funding
  • UK Sport to work with the Home Country Sports Councils and Commonwealth Federations in the run-up to Glasgow 2014 to maximise our teams’ performances, and to consider how we could improve British performances at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics
  • UK Sport to increase the budget for World Class Events to £5m per year to support the Government’s economic growth strategy
  • UK Sport to reduce its administration cost level by 50% by the end of the Spending Review period
  • UK Sport to work with the Department and Sport England to deliver a merged organisation by the target date of 1st April 2013, including driving out administration savings through closer working in advance of the merger
  • UK Sport to work with the Department and Sport England to improve the governance of NGBs, including in the areas of equality and diversity

Department for Education

Funding for schools and teachers has been protected, but savings will have to be found by the Department for Education and ring fencing has been removed. This means that the £125-130million that the department sets aside for school sport will no longer be targeted. The likely impact of this is that the five hour offer will be reduced to two.

In addition, it is expected that all 400 sports colleges will lose their specialist status and as well as targeted funding for sport, worth £130,000 per school or £129 per child.

Individual schools will be expected to fund sport from their ordinary budgets, and it is likely that the only additional funding for school sport will be the School Olympics, which will come from the Lottery.

Department of Health

It is less clear than in any other department where exactly the pain will be felt. Health spending has been protected, with real terms increases in funding for hospitals, and the public health budget has been ring-fenced.

At face value, this is encouraging as sport and recreation are such important weapons in the fight against obesity. However, the current signs are not so good given that Department of Health funding for County Sports Partnerships has already been withdrawn and Primary Care Trusts are being abolished.

We will have a clearer sense of where physical activity fits with the Government’s health agenda in December when the Public Health White Paper is published. CCPR is, of course, feeding into that process.

Department for Communities and Local Government

The biggest threat to a thriving sport and recreation sector lies in local government reforms. Councils spend £1.5billion a year on sport and physical activity infrastructure and programmes.

The Chancellor announced a 28% budget cut for communities and local government over the next four years, with the possibility of a further 7% cut in year five. If shared evenly across the Department, that means £500 million less for sport in communities all over the country. But experience tells us that sport will take more than its fair share of cuts.

Councils will have more discretion on what they spend their money on, but there remain a number of things they have to do. Policing and fire-fighting needs local spend, houses have to be built and benefits administered, bins have to be emptied and social care has to be provided. So they are required to do the same for much less, disproportionately squeezing discretionary spend - such as that on sport.

Then we factor in the landscape within the voluntary sector at a local level, the arena of discretionary spend, where there is a major change in culture as well as politics. The Big Society means that the voluntary sector will have to step in where the state withdraws – rehabilitating prisoners and supporting carers, for example. Sport and recreation may slip further down the pecking order.

How do we respond?

It will do sport and recreation no good if any objection we voice to these measures is not constructive. Whether we like it or not, these significant cuts are happening. There are three basic principles that we can share:

  1. Sport should be left to judge for itself how best to spend what Exchequer funding remains
  2. Sport’s ability to generate commercial revenues needs to be protected and enhanced, through, for example, broadcasting rights and the creation of a sports betting right.
  3. Most importantly of all, sports have got to work together at national and community levels to make sure that the value of sport and physical activity is understood as widely as possible. A relatively small amount of spending on sport can achieve a lot in improving health, education, cohesion and tackling anti-social behaviour.

In the telling of that story lies an opportunity to really state sport’s place in society. The love of sport is a national characteristic and 2012, the Rugby League and Rugby Union World Cups in 2013 and 2015, and hopefully the Football World Cup in 2018 gives us the platform to hammer that message home.

The key thing is that sport must work together. CCPR will provide further analysis as the information is digested in the coming days and weeks, and will be working with members to make sure that sport and recreation speak with one voice.