Comprehensive Spending Review Submission 2020

Published on: September 25th 2020

As part of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) consultation, Community Leisure UK has submitted a representation calling for progressive policy developments, including making sport and leisure a statutory duty for all councils in order to better support the health and wellbeing of the population and, alongside this, investment to:

  1. Prevent the permanent closure of public leisure and cultural facilities essential to supporting the long-term health and wellbeing of local communities and to build back better throughout the COVID-19 recovery period.
  2. Deliver a national campaign to promote the benefits of leisure and culture, and at the
    same time to build public confidence and raise realistic expectations about fully
    engaging with reopened leisure and cultural venues.
  3. Enable councils, in partnership with their service providers, to redesign, upgrade and
    renovate leisure and cultural facilities to the standard needed to support healthy,
    active communities, and in doing so realise the opportunity to transform leisure
    facilities into community wellbeing hubs offering colocated and integrated services.
  4. Produce a bold and brave new vision, national strategy and delivery framework for
    leisure and culture leading to the creation of a national wellness service aimed at
    significantly reducing rising demands on NHS and social services. Community
    Leisure UK envisage such a service could include the following delivered in leisure
    and cultural settings and their surrounding communities;
    • integrated health and wellbeing services focused on improving physical and
      mental health, including the entitlement for everyone with a long-term health
      condition to receive a “wellness prescription” to help manage their
      condition(s);
    • integrated disability, social care and youth services focused on improving
      physical and mental health, educational attainment, routes to employment
      and crime reduction; and
    • a leisure and culture volunteering scheme to build social capital to support
      community outreach work to engage population groups who do not benefit
      from being physically active and being part of a community.
  5. Protect essential jobs that remain at risk because of service viability due to physical
    distancing measures, and staffing cost inflation arising from anticipated National
    Living Wage increases.
  6. Develop more Cultural Compacts to help drive and revive the cultural sector and in turn the economy, and develop public library Makerspaces with more access to computers.

Commenting on the submission, Mark Tweedie, Community Leisure UK Chief Executive, said:

Pre coronavirus pandemic public leisure and cultural service providers had plans for capital projects, developing and diversifying services and deepening relationships with their local council partners. Now, with significantly increased public sector financial pressures, coupled with an uncertain outlook, there is concern for the future of the sector. The role of the sector has never been more important with regard to supporting the health and wellbeing of the population. It must therefore be supported, not only to ensure it survives but in order to release its untapped potential to help local councils build stronger more resilient communities throughout the coronavirus recovery period and beyond. This is why, on an invest to save basis, we have highlighted the opportunities for the government, through their Comprehensive Spending Review, to invest in the sector to deliver a broader mandate, amongst widening health inequalities, to reduce demands on the NHS and social service systems