Michael Dugher MP

Working hard for Barnsley East

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Government to blame as number of children taking part in competitive sport falls

As reported today by the Huffington Post, Michael has blamed central government cuts to grassroots sports organisations and other local projects for a decline in the percentage of children taking part in sport both and in and out of school in the past five years.

This follows the release of figures by the Labour Party that show the number of five to 15-year-olds that have taken part in competitive sport in and outside school has dropped from 80 per cent in 2011/12 to 77.3 per cent in 2014/15 and across the same age group, fewer than one in five play competitive sport outside school – 19.2 per cent.

In addition, figures released by Sports England earlier this year show that since the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, participation in sport has fallen in nearly every region of England.

Just three of the 26 Olympic sports - athletics, cycling and gymnastics - have seen significant increases in participation since 2012/13, with 15 seeing a fall.

The biggest drop in nationally funded sports comes in swimming, with 800,000 fewer people taking to the pool than in the year after the 2012 London Games.

The figures showed there are now 350,700 fewer people aged 14 or over being active for at least 30mins at least four times in the past month.

Commenting Michael said:

“Across the board, we have seen a drop in the percentage of children taking part in sporting activates in and out of school.

“This is the same for both primary and secondary school children. This makes a mockery of the Government’s so-called Olympic legacy. 

“Particularly disappointing is the decline in children taking part in competitive sporting activities, whether that’s being part of a local club or playing for the local team. 

“Support for grassroots sport has been cut massively since 2010 and the downward trend in participation will no doubt get even worse if the Government cuts spending on grassroots sport in this week's Comprehensive Spending Review. 

“The Government is putting at risk the development of Britain’s next sporting heroes and Olympic athletes. Ministers must think again before implementing yet more damaging cuts to grassroots sport in the forthcoming spending review.”


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