Sport in the UK

Part of Social Security – in the House of Commons at 8:41 pm on 4th February 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Labour, Cardiff Central 8:41 pm, 4th February 2019

I am delighted to add my congratulations to Alex, and I hope that she will have a long and illustrious career playing for Wales.

I could probably spend my entire five minutes talking about the incredible success of those two universities producing sportsmen and women, but I want to touch on two other issues in my contribution. First, I wish to mention the many people who help make sport happen in my constituency, and, secondly, the low-paid workers in our clubs and stadiums whose hard graft allows us to enjoy live sport so much.

Every week, my constituents of all ages and all abilities are able to participate in sport because of people working in our leisure centres, clubs, universities and schools and the very many volunteers who dedicate themselves to keeping sports clubs going year after year. There are clubs run by volunteers who provide improved health and well-being for people every single day. I want to take the opportunity today to pay tribute to every single volunteer who gives up their free time to keep sport at the very heart of our city: referees, coaches, first aiders, fixture and membership secretaries, and parents giving lifts, fundraising and making hot drinks and hot dogs. They keep our city happy and healthy, and I thank them very much.

There is another group of people without whom our sporting venues and professional clubs could not operate, including, in my view, the biggest and best sporting venue in the world, the Principality stadium in my constituency. These people are a group of predominantly younger, low-paid workers—the pint pullers, catering staff, programme sellers, cleaners, stewards and security guards. We get fed, watered and looked after safely by them every time we go there to watch rugby, football and cricket, to see bands and to watch other sporting events.

Sporting stadiums and elite sports clubs, particularly premier league football clubs, are deeply rooted in our communities and they have huge commercial success. But despite the money flowing to the owners, players and agents, most stadium workers—including cleaners, catering staff and security guards—are paid less than the real living wage and are struggling to keep their heads above water financially. Today, Citizens UK has published its report on money in sport and the real living wage; it is a happy coincidence with our debate.

Last week, I welcomed living wage campaigners to Parliament to hear more about how sports clubs and stadiums that have become accredited living wage employers can lift people out of in-work poverty, bringing benefits not only for those workers, but for the organisations and local economies. Those who work in sports clubs and stadiums are disproportionately affected by low pay; about 42% of them are paid below the real living wage.

These large clubs and stadiums are anchor institutions like universities, local authorities and hospitals. They are major private sector employers with strong social and historical links to their areas. I cannot imagine my constituency without the Principality stadium, or my city without Cardiff City stadium or Glamorgan County cricket club. The significance of these institutions lies in their ability to play a leadership role when it comes to driving take-up of the real living wage and generating that shared economic growth. That is why I, and nearly 30 Welsh MPs, are writing to the chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union tomorrow, asking for a meeting to discuss how the Principality stadium could also become an accredited living wage employer.

The Welsh Rugby Union pays each of its players a £5,300 appearance fee, and on Friday night, against the French, I reckon they were worth every single penny. But the Six Nations games at the Principality stadium could not happen without those stadium workers, some of whom are earning as little as £7.50 an hour. A cleaner at the stadium would have to work for four and a half months just to earn the equivalent of that match appearance fee.

It is not radical to say that every job in Wales and across the UK should pay enough to live on. Welsh rugby upholds the highest standards on the pitch and off the pitch, and during the Six Nations the Principality stadium has the chance to make a massive difference to the lives of people who work so hard to make our experience and the Six Nations tournament a success, so I am asking the Welsh Rugby Union to step up and become a living wage employer.