Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 9th March 2023.
What steps her Department is taking to help improve inclusion in sport.
The Government believe that the opportunity to play sport and get physically active should be available to everyone. Sport is central to our national cultural identity, so it must be welcoming to all. We are working closely with Sport England, UK Sport and national governing bodies to improve inclusion across the sector, from the grassroots to the elite level.
I thank the Minister for that answer. I am a patron of Harrogate Gateway FC, which is a football club specifically for people with learning disabilities who just wish to play the sport they love. How does my right hon. Friend work with national and regional sporting bodies to ensure there are clubs and teams in all our communities that enable participation in sport, with all of the benefits that flow from that?
I join my hon. Friend in saying thank you to Harrogate Gateway football club for the work it is doing in helping people with learning disabilities. Sport England recently awarded £1.5 million to Special Olympics GB to help provide innovative opportunities, and inclusion in sport is an integral part of the work we are doing. I am delighted that, yesterday, we ensured equal opportunities for girls and boys at school, announcing over £600 million for school sports. Our forthcoming sport strategy will set out further detail about how we want to make sport more inclusive.
The Government’s failure to include swimming pools and leisure centres in the list of energy-intensive industries that would qualify for support with their energy bills post April is leading to a number of these centres being closed. What assessment has the Minister made of the impact of the closure of swimming pools and leisure centres, particularly on some of the poorest communities in England? What is he doing to get the Treasury to change its mind?
I have had extensive engagement both with the sector and the all-party parliamentary group on swimming, as well as with the Local Government Association recently, to understand exactly what the situation is, and I have to say that it is different in different parts of the country. We are making an assessment, and I am having further discussions with colleagues across Government about what may be a plan for the future.
Following the Lionesses’ stunning success in the Euros, it is important that we capitalise on the momentum behind women’s football, so we welcome the Government’s commitment to equal access to school sport for boys and girls—we have been calling for that for a long time. How are the Government going to make sure that schools have the facilities to be able to deliver that and how are they going to measure it?
As I said a moment ago, I am delighted that we made the announcement yesterday of over £600 million—it is a significant investment—to ensure that the provision of PE and sport in school is available and that there is equal access for boys and girls. We are also working on a kitemark, so that we will ensure that the quality of the provision is—
Order. Can Andrew Bridgen come back into the Chamber until there have been two full questions? I have one more Member waiting, too. Carry on, Minister.