HC Deb 19 March 1986 vol 94 cc238-9W
50. Mr. Gerald Bowden

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the Government's policy towards the provision of sport and recreation opportunities for communities in inner cities and deprived areas.

Mr. Tracey

The Government believe that sport and recreation can play an important part in alleviating social deprivation in the inner cities and other areas of need. We have encouraged, and fully support, the Sports Council's policies to provide a wide range of opportunities for communities in these areas. In 1985–86 the council's expenditure on schemes in inner cities and areas of special need accounted for 20 per cent. of its total budget. This expenditure will rise next year as a result of the substantial increase in the council's grant in aid from £30.6 million to £37 million.

The Government's urban programme and derelict land grant schemes are further important sources of support for a wide range of sport and recreation projects in inner cities and other urban areas. The annual value of this support is currently about £35 million.

60. Mr. Dickens

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy towards the provision of sport and recreation facilities for the community.

Mr. Tracey

Communities' demand for sport and recreation opportunities continues to grow and I am concerned that, within public expenditure constraints, this should be met. Participating in sport has obvious benefits, in health and well-being and in community spirit (especially in deprived areas). Sport plays an important part in the lives of people of all ages. To meet the need there is a great deal of annual public investment in new facilities and opportunities—currently about £700 million by local authorities, £35 million under the urban programme and large sums under the programmes of various Government Departments. In particular, this Government have increased substantially the grant to the Sports Council, from £14 million in 1979 to £37 million next year. Through public and private investment, and much voluntary effort, the country's stock of facilities has improved substantially in recent years. This growth will continue. At the same time, I look for an expansion in the use of existing facilities, in schools, colleges, industry and in sports like football.