POLITICS

'Government Has Made A Mockery Of Olympic Spirit', Claim Labour As Percentage Of Children Playing Sport Drops

23/11/2015 14:03 GMT | Updated 23/11/2015 14:59 GMT
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Britain's heptathlon Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis poses for a picture as her float passes the Royal Courts of Justice during a parade celebrating Britain's athletes who competed in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in central London on September 10, 2012. Britain was bidding a fond farewell om September 10 to a golden summer of Olympic and Paralympic sport with a victory parade by athletes through London ending up at Buckingham Palace. AFP PHOTO / POOL / DAVID DAVIES (Photo credit should read DAVID DAVIES/AFP/GettyImages)

Children’s participation in sport has dropped significantly since 2010, making a “mockery” of the Olympic legacy, according to Labour.

Analysis carried out by the party and passed to HuffPostUK reveals that the percentage of children taking part in sport both and in and out of school has fallen in the past five years.

At a time of rising childhood obesity, the number of 11-to-15-year-olds that have played sport in the last four weeks has dropped from 96.7 per cent to 94.9 per cent in 2014/15.

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Michael Dugher blamed central government cuts to grassroots sports organisations and other local projects for the decline.

He told HuffPostUK: “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.”

dugher

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Michael Dugher

According to the figures put out by Labour, 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.

Across the same age group, fewer than one in five play competitive sport outside school – 19.2 per cent.

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

Only London and Yorkshire saw an increase - but of less than 0.5 per cent.

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.

In June this year, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch vowed to “rip up” the Government’s sports strategy, which she described as “very much out of date”.

She said: “We’ve seen a continued downward trend in the number of people who are participating and I want to discuss with Sport England why, when we’ve invested record amounts of money in sport, we’re not seeing an increase in participation rates.

"The current approach has had its day. It’s not the return we expect to see for a large investment of public money.

“A lot of people are to blame. Government is in part to blame in that we have got a sport strategy that is very much out of date and that is the strategy that Sport England is designed to deliver.

"I’m saying that I’m going to rip up that strategy and start again.”