29th March 2019, 14:37 | campaign
Ralph Rimmer, CEO the Rugby Football League writes:
"The Spending Review will be key to the future of sport as the government sets out spending across departments and local government. At a time of significant pressures on public finances it is important all of us in sport remind our policy makers of the outstanding returns delivered by sport against multiple government agendas.
"Sport is a public good. It makes a huge contribution to our physical and mental health; our sense of belonging and community; the education, skills and training agenda; our international relations and reputation. Sport is front and centre of how together we address the big issues we face as a nation and deliver societal change, whether that’s childhood and adult obesity; crime reduction; loneliness; disenfranchised communities; or measuring and improving our happiness and wellbeing. These are big challenges. They can be met to a very great degree with continued funding for sport via coordinated investment from DCMS, Health, local government, justice and education.
"Public investment in sport and recreation represents a tiny fraction of overall government spending. It can be fragmented and short-term when all policy makers agree that achieving societal and behavioural change requires long-term and steady support. When overall spending on sport is squeezed (as it has been since 2010), one of the results is the need to then spend far more public money on issues like youth justice or complex healthcare. This is particularly true in the most disadvantaged communities, where 50% of all rugby league is played, where health and education outcomes are much lower than in more affluent areas. That is why the ‘rugby league dividend’ delivered by our sport in the heart of communities is so vital for those than play, volunteer and watch and feel a greater sense of connection to their town via this sport. That is why we are working with a leading university to further evidence the unique impact of clubs and foundations and will take these findings to government this summer; and why the RLWC2021 team is embarking on innovative research to evidence the wider impact of not only the tournament itself but all its legacy and community engagement activities.
"Sport is a significant driver in our economy employing over a million people and indirectly supporting hundreds of thousands more jobs. It is worth £37bn (gross value added) directly to the UK economy. The indirect returns are just as important. Sports, including rugby league, change lives and communities, and most do so with extremely modest public investment. Lottery funding continues to be vital to sport and must be protected in any new arrangements. The Rugby Football League has already joined with other leading sports to encourage government to consider an extension of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to fund specific and long-term commitments to school sports in addition to Exchequer funding. Funding for places to play is vital. The support that Government has made to rugby league through the RLWC2021 grassroots legacy funding is extremely important to our sport. Across the sector more funding and fresh thinking on facilities will continue to be a shared priority. It is important that sport’s voice is heard at this time, and we will continue to speak up loudly for rugby league.
"Simply, sport is a public good, and public investment in sport is incredible value for money."