Every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity generates nearly £4 for the English economy and society, a new study from Sheffield Hallam University has found.
The news comes as the country prepares to celebrate the Great British Week of Sport, an initiative that aims to inspire the nation to celebrate the power of sport by focussing on the positive effect it has on our mental, physical and social well-being.
The report, commissioned by Sport England, shows that investing in community sport and physical activity plays an important role in boosting the economy and provides the opportunity to help level up inequalities within communities, and build a healthier, happier and more prosperous society.
The findings also reveal that community sport and physical activity brings an annual contribution of £85.5 billion to the country (in 2018 prices) through social and economic benefits.
Its social value – including physical and mental health, wellbeing, individual and community development – is more than £72 billion, provided via routes such as a healthier population, consumer expenditure, greater work productivity, improved education attainment, reduced crime and stronger communities.
The economic value includes more than 285,000 jobs that employ people within the community sport and physical activity sector, 10,000 of which are in Suffolk.
Tim Hollingsworth, the chief executive of Sport England who commissioned the report, said:
“Today more than ever community sport and activity has a vital role to play in offering a solution to some of society’s biggest problems like our health, both mental and physical, helping to make life fairer for everyone, and growing and improving our economy,”.
“Everyone has a responsibility to keep our nation active. This new research provides evidence that can help local authorities, businesses and the voluntary sector to understand the value of promoting activity, especially as it will play an important part in helping the nation to recover from the challenges 2020 has brought.”
Cllr James Reeder, the Cabinet Member for Health and Prevention at Suffolk County Council, said:
“We under-estimate the value of the sport and physical activity sector at our peril. Being active is possibly the greatest thing we can do for our health. That’s why it is so great to see our local sport and leisure facilities back open to the public. They are not just sports facilities they are hugely important community assets.”
Paul Knightson, a member at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre echoed the sentiment, saying “I was massively relieved when Abbeycroft Leisure announced they were opening again because it’s been a real struggle for me not being able to come to the gym. I lack motivation with working out at home, which is why I love the gym so much. The new system here is great, I feel really safe and I’d encourage other people to come and try it…It’s really good to be back”
The Great British Week of Sport runs from the 19th to 27th September and will showcase the benefits of an active lifestyle. During the week it will align each day to a specific theme to ensure as wide a reach as possible with organisers keen to stress that the week is for everyone, regardless of age, background or fitness level.
More details can be found at www.keepmovingsuffolk.com/the-great-british-week-of-sport.