All government departments need a sports policy-focused minister, say MPs

  • Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Government departments such as health, education and transport should have a minister dedicated to sports policy, according to several members of parliament.

In a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of Boxing – an informal group of MPs with an interest in the sport – it was suggested that the move would lead to “more coordinated approach” to sports policy in government.

The “cross-departmental approach” would see the ministers responsible for sport policy and the overall minister of sport – currently Tracey Crouch – work on an all-encompassing strategy for applying physical activity and sport to benefit health and society in general.

Working on the basis that sport and physical activity “has a much wider role” and needs to be “reflected across government”, the proposal suggests that each governmental department conducts regular audits of physical activity and sports policy detailing the impact and opportunities its policies create for “using sport and physical activity as an intervention”.

“In the longer term, it would be desirable to have the government perform a sports impact assessment on all relevant policies, so that it can be publically acknowledged what effect government decisions have on sport and physical activity,” said the report.

However, the APPG conceded that the proposal was a “notoriously difficult aim to achieve”.

“Many aspiration reports have pumped out this recommendation in the past, but it has not happened.”

The APPG – which includes chair Charlotte Leslie MP and former sports minister Kate Hoey – suggested that the “benefits of boxing and other sports” had not been “fully exploited in the formation of public policy” because government departments work in isolation.

Sporting Future, the recently-published government sport strategy, has addressed this to some extent, with the Department of Health and Department of Education working with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on some policy points.

The report – Boxing: The Right Hook – was funded by England Boxing, and can be read here.