Minister Andrew's speech at the Active Uprising conference

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew's speech from the ukactive 'Active Uprising’ conference

The Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP

Hello everyone,

Thank you for the introduction, and for inviting me to speak today. I am delighted to be here with you all. 

Firstly I want to thank you all for the important work you do to help build a healthier and more productive nation. Being active promotes individual wellbeing, reduces loneliness and strengthens communities. 

A fit and active workforce also has a positive effect on employment skills and job readiness and contributes significantly to our economy. 

As you know, we recently published our new Sport Strategy, ‘Get Active’, where we set out our unapologetic ambition to build a more active nation and ensure the sector can thrive in the years ahead. 

As part of the strategy, we committed to the target of 2.5 million more adults and 1 million more children being classed as ‘active’ by 2030. 

Whilst the Government has a vital role to play in meeting this ambition, securing the sport and physical activity sector’s active involvement is central to making this ambition a reality. Each and every one of you can help us to make a difference. 

That is why, as part of Get Active, we launched the National Physical Activity Taskforce. It aims to connect government departments with the sector and independent experts, to focus on measurable actions that will get an additional 3.5 million people active.

I am delighted that ukactive - as part of the National Sector Partnerships Group - is a standing member of the taskforce. This helps to ensure that your voice is heard and your views represented at the table. 

Lioness legend Jill Scott is also a permanent member of the taskforce, helping to provide a fresh perspective on how we get the nation moving. It is great to see that she will be joining you later today. 

Get Active also sets out our desire to ensure that our country has a sport and physical activity sector which is efficient and resilient - one which is financially robust and environmentally sustainable. The Government is committed to working in collaboration with all of you to achieve these ambitions. 

It is great to see that data will be a key theme throughout today’s conference. It is something that is a top priority for DCMS - helping to ensure the role and impact of sport and physical activity is articulated clearly.

We have already come a long way as a sector in achieving this. We now need to ensure that the evidence base is indisputable, so that those ‘outside the tent’ can be convinced. We need all of you to do your part in helping push this forward, by sharing data and helping us react to its findings. 

A great example of where data is being used to empower the sector and drive forward participation is within public leisure. Alongside the private sector, public leisure provides a vital contribution to the wellbeing ecosystem. 

Sport England’s Moving Communities service helps us understand the social value of public leisure centres to those who use them most. They recorded over 211 million visits to over 1000 public leisure facilities in the last 12 months alone.  A third of those visits were to the gym and a fifth were for using the pool. These visits were made by just over 10 million people, with more than half women and just over a quarter under the age of 16. 

This data helps build a picture of what interventions are needed to get specific groups active and ensure there is an inclusive offer for all.   

This insight also helps open the door to understanding other opportunities where sport and physical activity could make a difference. 

As we set out in the Get Active strategy, facilities provide important community hubs, connect individuals with the areas in which they live and help to deliver on important social and mental health outcomes.  

The Government is playing its part - the Swimming Pool Support Fund is helping to keep the nation’s public swimming pools afloat. I am delighted that we have been able to support hundreds of swimming pools across England. 

In particular, through the Fund we are improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of facilities to safeguard them for future generations. 

This investment is part of our wider efforts to improve facilities across the country - with over £400 million from 2021 to 2025 which includes multi-sport pitches, tennis courts and swimming pools, to make sure every community has access to the facilities they need.

Likewise, the Department for Health’s new WorkWell service will support Integrated Care Services in developing localised plans for work and health strategies. It is clear that both the private and public leisure sector have a role to play in this work in helping to empower individuals to get back on track. 

Nonetheless, there is clearly more work that needs to be done. Too many people are still not getting the benefits that being physically active brings. 

As a Government we continue to consider ways in which we can ensure that the sector has the conditions to enable it to prosper. Because we know the more active we are, the stronger and healthier our communities and economy, and the more prosperous our society.

I thank you for all you do and I urge you all to continue to make sport and physical activity an essential part of everyone’s daily life.

No matter how big or small your business, together, we can make a difference. 

I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference today -  and make the most of the opportunity to build connections across the sector and to share successes with each other.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP