Unlock the potential of sport, recreation and physical activity to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation’ urge sector leaders.

A coalition of leading organisations across sport, recreation and physical activity has today come together for the first time to call for radical reform to support the growth and development of the sector.

A landmark report,Unlocking the potential proposes a clear strategic vision for how to fully harness the sport, recreation and physical activity sector to improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the nation and support our renewal as a country post-pandemic.

The report argues the sector can be integral to successfully delivering a number of key Government priorities, including Levelling Up, driving economic growth, achieving Net Zero and supporting the NHS.

Indeed, senior health leaders have consistently called physical activity the ‘miracle cure’ which can tackle the growing burden of preventable illness.

The report also proposes a range of systemic interventions including access to investment, tax and regulatory changes and wider policy reform which the coalition believes are key to maximising this role. 

Collectively, the National Sector Partners Group (NSPG) and its members help deliver £85bn per annum in social value through improved health and wellbeing, educational attainment, community cohesion, reduced crime and economic impact. Our sector supports over half a million jobs and engages over 6m volunteers.


The NSPG includes Active Partnerships, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, the Local Government Association, the Sport for Development Coalition, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, ukactive and the Youth Sport Trust.

Leaders of the National Sector Partners Group organisations said:


“As leading voices in the sector, we are united in calling for fundamental change that will transform the role our sector can play in the national renewal. We believe that ours is a sector that needs to be empowered, supported and protected so that it can grow and realise its full societal potential. 


We also firmly believe that, by working more collaboratively with all arms of Government and its agencies, sport, recreation and physical activity can make a far greater contribution to the key public policy challenges the Government now faces.


In the context of the ongoing review of the Government’s sport strategy Sporting Future and the School Sport and Activity Action Plan, we believe this is the right time to make a positive and constructive contribution to the debate.


If anything, the current political instability in Westminster brings into sharp focus what we are calling for in the report, reinforcing the need for a different approach built on substantive, long-term policy solutions to the challenges we collectively face.


We hope that this report can help shape the debate within Government and beyond and support further dialogue on the kinds of interventions we believe are necessary to unlock the potential of our sector.”


“Fundamentally, we are asking for two things with this report: 


Firstly, securing a greater recognition of the enormous potential of sport, recreation, and physical activity across Whitehall and for this to be connected explicitly to the delivery of key cross-Government priorities including Levelling Up, strengthening public services, driving economic growth and Net Zero.


Secondly, that the sector is given the right tools and operating environment to succeed. This means recognising we are a dynamic, interconnected economic sector which requires the same vision, investment and policy reform as any other.”


Examples of proposed reforms to support the sector’s growth and development include:


  • Dedicated support to stabilise public sport and leisure to support physical activity levels alongside long-term investment to develop modern, inclusive and sustainable community facilities and places and spaces for people to be active.


  • Fundamental reforms to the tax treatment of sport, recreation and physical activity encompassing changes to VAT, business rates, Corporation Tax and wider tax and giving measures to reduce burdens and incentivise investment and growth.


  • An ambitious national strategy for PE, school sport and physical activity supported by long-term funding and clear accountability measures designed to drive up activity levels, health and wellbeing of children and young people across all age groups.


  • Ring-fenced investment in sport-based programmes as part of key Government plans to cut crime, improve health, raise educational attainment and enhance the skills employability of young people.


  • Greater access to investment through explicit inclusion of sport, recreation and physical activity in key Levelling Up funding streams.


  • Improved understanding of the availability and accessibility of built facilities and the natural environment at local level to identify risks and opportunities and target investment effectively.


  • Greater emphasis on the role of sport, recreation and physical activity in reducing the burden of preventable disease at national level through the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and locally through newly-formed Integrated Care Systems.


The National Sector Partners Group will continue to work constructively with Government along with our members and wider stakeholders to take forward the recommendations in this report.







Notes to editors:

  1. The National Sector Partners Group (NSPG) comprises lead representative bodies from across the sport, recreation and physical activity sectors:

The network of 43 Active Partnerships cover the whole of England, bringing together people and organisations across their counties to increase physical activity levels. 

With a particular focus on those who face the most difficulties in being active, they are driven by an understanding of the power physical activity and sport can have on people’s health and the vibrancy of their communities.

The Active Partnerships connect and support a vast array of organisations, using their position to influence policies and strategies that can make it easier and more attractive for people to be active in their day to day lives.

CIMSPA is the professional development body for the UK’s sport and physical activity sector, committed to supporting, developing and enabling professionals and organisations to succeed and, as a result, inspire our nation to become more active.

Together we're developing a vibrant, UK-wide sport and physical activity sector, with the highest standards of service delivery.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. We are a politically led, cross-party membership organisation, representing councils from England and Wales.  Our members run nearly 3,000 leisure centres, pools and multi-sport facilities in England, and manage a significant majority of the 27,000 parks and green spaces in the UK. These facilities are designed to offer affordable and accessible opportunities for people in every community to be active, and work alongside other council services like public health, transport and education to maximise the benefits for their communities.

The Sport for Development Coalition is a UK-wide network of more than 230 charities and organisations over-arching thousands of projects and programmes that use sport and physical activity-based interventions to intentionally generate positive health and societal outcomes. The network is dedicated to tackling key health and societal inequalities in communities facing disadvantage and deprivation, and in the greatest need of levelling up. It is supported by Sport England, Comic Relief and Laureus Sport for Good. 

The Sport and Recreation Alliance believes that the power of sport and recreation can change lives and bring communities together. Together with over 300 members and in partnership with the wider sector, we make the most of opportunities and tackle the areas that provide a challenge.


We deliver advice, support and guidance to our members and the sector, who represent traditional governing bodies of games and sport, active partnerships, outdoor recreation, water pursuits, and movement and dance exercise.


As the voice of the sector, we work with Government, policy makers and the media to make sure grassroots sport and recreation grows and thrives. Having an active nation is important as it delivers huge benefits to society and the millions of participants, volunteers, staff and spectators.

ukactive is the UK’s leading not-for-profit membership body for the physical activity sector, bringing together more than 4,000 member organisations and partners in our shared ambition to get More People, More Active, More Often. From gyms, leisure centres, studios, health bodies, sports bodies and other activity providers, to major consumer brands, tech firms and equipment manufacturers, our community collaborates across the private, public and third sectors. ukactive facilitates high-impact partnerships, conceives and drives breakthrough campaigns, conducts critical research and lobbies the Government to recognise the power of the physical activity sector to address today’s biggest issues – including ‘levelling up’ health, reducing the burden on the NHS and social care, reducing crime, revitalising our high streets and communities, tackling loneliness and driving our physical and mental recovery from COVID-19.

The Youth Sport Trust is a children’s charity founded in 1995 to harness the power of play and sport in children’s education & development.  Our vision is a future where every child enjoys the life-changing benefits of play and sport and our mission is to equip educators and empower young people to build brighter futures.  We work in partnership with education ,health and sport and together we create opportunities for young people to belong and achieve. Our 2022 – 2035 strategy is built around three simple objectives: urgent action to build back healthier, happier and more resilient young people and level the playing field for the most disadvantaged, a generation shift to balance the demands of the digital age through the human connection of physical play and sport, and societal change by transforming society’s perceptions and attitudes toward the importance of physical literacy, play and sport in the education and development of young people.


  1. Through our collaborative work as sector partners, we aim to engage decision makers to improve the operating landscape for the sector and embed sport, recreation and physical activity as a key contributor to wider public policy objectives.


  1. For media queries, in the first instance please contact:


Rob Gibson, Head of Strategic Communications, ukactive:

[email protected]


07585 253812


Alex Sexton, Head of Marketing, Communications and Member Engagement, Sport and Recreation Alliance:

[email protected]