Equestrian bodies back calls to Boris Johnson for urgent sport funding

  • Equestrian governing bodies are backing calls to the Prime Minister for urgent funding for the recovery of sport following the pandemic.

    More than 100 sport and physical activity governing bodies, including British Equestrian, British Dressage, Endurance GB, the Pony Club and the British Horse Society, have written to Boris Johnson urging him to ring-fence funding for the recovery of the sector or risk “fuelling physical inactivity and related illnesses for a generation”. The letter comes during the Great British Week of Sport (19-27 September) and highlights the contribution of the sports and physical activity sector to society, with a combined workforce of more than 600,000 people.

    It is hoped a support package, similar to that which has been provided to the arts and restaurants sector, will enable sport to continue to provide programmes and facilities that address the health inequalities highlighted by the pandemic and support the NHS in improving health outcomes.

    “Grassroots sport, fitness, and wider recreational activity is proven to improve physical, mental, and social wellbeing. This makes our sector an essential service as our nation recovers from the damage caused by Covid-19,” the letter states.

    “Prime Minister – you’ve long been a champion of the benefits of a physically active lifestyle and we were heartened to hear that commitment renewed this summer with the launch of the government’s obesity strategy. Our combined sector is delighted to be showcasing its reach into the heart of communities this week as part of the inaugural Great British Week of Sport.”

    British Equestrian, which has been supporting ukactive’s Great British Week of Sport, said it was calling on Boris Johnson to “commit to position sport and physical activity at the heart of our nation’s post-Covid renewal”.

    “Our sector is united in its call to the Prime Minister to back grassroots sport and physical activity so that our clubs, gyms and leisure facilities can throw their full weight behind fighting this pandemic,” said ukactive chief executive Huw Edwards.

    “This is a health crisis and our sector can play a vital role in supporting our NHS by restoring the nation’s physical and mental resilience in the face of this terrible virus. We call on the government to deliver the urgent fiscal, taxation and regulatory support required to save sports and activity providers across the UK from disappearing from our communities at the time they are needed most.”

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    Sport and Recreation Alliance chief executive Lisa Wainwright added that the strength of the coalition of the sports, recreation and activity sector “cannot be ignored”.

    “The pandemic has put an incredible strain on our sector, which was forced to close for a prolonged period,” she said.

    “It is imperative that our sector gets the support it requires from the government to get back to business, in order to ease the pressures on the NHS and play a central role in our nation’s recovery.”

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