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Chair’s Opinion

Richard Hunt

Richard Hunt, Chair of CLOA asserts that we need to raise our game again and accelerate the debate for a rounded legacy strategy that includes public health, CCGs and the education sector as key sport and physical activity partners and investors.

There’s no better time to talk legacy!

The title of the Westminster briefing conference I attended last week may have been ‘Funding & Promoting Youth & Community Sport’, but the underlying message from my presentation, (confirmed by the debate that followed) was that a 2012 Legacy strategy was the topic that needed to be high on the agenda right now.

The interactive Q & A session at the briefing unanimously supported the shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham’s assertion last week that there was “a lack of unified thinking across government departments” around sport and physical activity and the opportunity the Games delivered.

Lord Coe’s appointment as Legacy Ambassador within the Cabinet Office clearly offers a great opportunity to address the silo thinking, but we do need the Legacy strategy to reach beyond the context of school competitive sport and the success of eliteUKathlete performance as the sole contributors to a successful sporting and active nation.

The £1 billion Youth and Community strategy investment through Sport England through to 2017 is beginning to address some of the drivers for legacy debate – facilities, the role of NGBs, and of course most importantly the local investment funding.  Sport England have been mature strategic partners in the development of these funds and understanding the local environment community sport now sits within.  CLOA continues to consult with Sport England to refine these programmes; to maximise the impact of this investment at a crucial time locally.

Local Authorities of course are already planning at least through to 2020 for significant year on year public funding reductions and if not already, will have to re-scope their community sport offer.  Next month the financial grants and outlook for local authority funding will be announced for 2013/14 and probably a clear indication of the medium term outlook.  The signals are, of course, even more challenges for local authorities sports funding, and the ability to articulate the necessity and value of continued investment in community sport and physical activity will be critical.

We therefore need to raise our game again and accelerate the debate for a rounded legacy strategy that includes public health, CCGs and the education sector as key sport and physical activity partners and investors.

So I’m calling on the sector’s strategic leaders and champions to pick up the volume of this debate now, and join CLOA in setting out some urgent sport and physical activity ‘legacy messages’ for the Cabinet Office and Government departments.

Here’s some for starters-

Joining up nationally A step change in policy thinking is needed to address the silos that hinder progression in the sporting and physical activity landscape. Health and education reform are all moving at a pace, and present challenges, opportunities, and impact for sport and physical activity legacy. Despite banks of evidence, we still have a way to go to establish the value of sport and physical activity firmly within these policy agendas, and critically realign resources.  A focus on prevention, health inequality and well being, and the best start in life for young people, is however a clear and solid platform for the sports sector to engage.

Joining up locally Locally we have to have more emphasis on collaborative approaches for sport and physical activity within and across local areas, from club to school, from grassroots and community sport to sporting development and supporting talent.  NGBs will drive the spending of half a billion pounds of sports funding over the next 3 years.  If it isn’t weaved into local partnerships and the key strategic direction locally it’ll be a wasted opportunity for real legacy.  The same applies to the school games support, and funding for HE/FE sector.

More widely we must influence and lead an integrated approach to addressing the local inequalities of provision, access and opportunity, working with public health and health and well being stakeholders.  A sport and physical activity line in the HWB strategy is a start – but as sector leaders we need to find the formula that converts a focus on cure to one of prevention, through integrated planning and action both targeted and across the community.

Funding for sport and physical activity needs to ‘get local’ If we are to maximise the current national investment in sport we need to firstly ensure it supports local delivery and not organisational process.  The map of resourcing for the sporting landscape is ‘complex’, and not the most efficient. Local authority leadership along with key bodies like Health and Well Being Boards, and CSP partners, have to be the trusted leaders and joint commissioners for local sporting strategy and investment.

Support the development of a professional sport and physical activity workforce Our sport and physical activity offer is only as good as our workforce.  If we are truly setting out for legacy we will need an even more highly skilled workforce to pick up this challenge into the long term. Certainly the sector will need very different skill sets and ways of working to make the system work effectively, more proactive around health and well being worlds, of commissioning, systems approach and language.  We do however have a new Chartered Institute in CIMSPA, and it’s critical that this body establishes and delivers the framework of support that drives up sector workforce skills development for individuals and organisations.  Collectively we (as individuals and lead sector organisations) need to ensure we do our bit to both shape thinking and back the development of CIMPSA.

There is no better time to talk legacy so let’s forget the old agendas and unify around a clear set of strategic themes and messages.

Richard Hunt, Chair of CLOA
richard.hunt@suffolk.gov.uk

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