Department for Culture, Media & Sport savings announced

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The Government has made several announcements about funding today, some of which affect sport and the activities of Sport England’s partners.

The Department of Health has announced that its funding to County Sports Partnerships (CSPs) will be cut. This does not affect Sport England’s core investment in CSPs.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced that funding for free swims under the free swimming programme will end this summer.

Please find below relevant details from the DCMS press release.

Savings of around £73 million have been made by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, as part of the department’s further contribution to reducing the fiscal deficit.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, and his ministerial team have examined recent spending decisions, pilot schemes and other commitments, and decided that a number of projects should not now go ahead.

Projects for which funding is being cancelled include free swimming for those aged 16 and under and over 60, the planned Stonehenge Visitor Centre and the British Film Institute (BFI) Film Centre.  The Government is still funding the building of a new film store to safeguard the National Film Archive and, although the BFI’s digital access project is not affordable at the present time, is looking for the BFI to examine alternative methods of support and delivery.

Mr Hunt said:

“We are facing an unprecedented financial situation in this country, and it is essential that we act now to reduce the country’s debt.  As part of my department’s contribution, we have examined a number of schemes to determine whether they remain a Government priority, value for money, and affordable in the current economic climate.  This has involved some incredibly difficult decisions, but the cultural and sporting worlds, like everyone else, urgently need the country’s finances to be returned to a sustainable position.”

Funding for free swims under the free swimming programme will end this summer, in the light of new research which shows that the scheme has not delivered value for money. Figures published today show that the majority of those participating in the scheme would have gone swimming anyway, even if they had to pay, and that the scheme has not significantly increased physical activity.

Commenting on the decision, Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said:

“This is not a decision that gives me any pleasure. However, the research shows that the great majority of free swimmers were swimming already, and would have paid to swim anyway. With a crippling deficit to tackle and tough decisions to take, this has become a luxury we can no longer afford.

“Delivering a legacy from 2012 is one of my top priorities. I want people of all ages and abilities to have opportunities to take part in all kinds of sport, and under our plans to reform the Lottery shares we should see an extra £50 million a year going on sports facilities by 2012. Our plans to deliver a community sports legacy, in partnership with Sport England, are progressing well and we expect to make a full announcement in July.”


Further information about the Free Swimming scheme:

The cross-Government scheme, which was launched in April 2009, is jointly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department of Health, the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government. It was initially due to run for two years to March 2011. However, in light of research  published today which shows the scheme has not delivered value for money and the commitment to cut the budget deficit, the Government has taken the decision to withdraw the majority of the remaining exchequer funding due to be distributed in this financial year.

The research found that although 18 million free swims were taken during the first year of the scheme, around 83 per cent of those aged 60 and over and 73 per cent of those aged 16 and under would have gone swimming anyway, even if they had to pay for it.

Value for money analysis also showed that the cost of the scheme outweighs the health benefits.

The research can be found at the DCMS website.

Of the £140 million set aside for the free swimming scheme, £75 million was distributed in 2008/9 and 2009/10. Of the remaining £65 million, £40 million will be withdrawn, minus the cost of running the scheme from 1 April to 31 July, when it will formally end.

The Government is still considering the future of the £25 million set aside for improving swimming pools.