Abstracts: July 4th, 2007

This report from PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned by Communities and Local Government reveals that leisure provision in the UK performs unfavourably when compared with peer group nations in terms of sporting and health outcomes and per capita funding for sport. The Government targets include increasing participation by 1% year on year for the next 15 years.Nationally, the network of sporting provision is fragmented, complex and diverse with a range of public, private and voluntary sector providers. One of the key concerns with public sector facilities is that much of the stock in public ownership is in poor condition. Service planning in the public sector is typically asset focused, lacks strategic direction and is in many instances driven by replicating existing patterns of delivery. It fails to consider what the optimum range, location and management arrangement should be.

Opportunities for rationalizing provision across local authority boundaries, sharing resources or recognizing the contribution of private sector facilities/facilities or facilities on school sites are generally bypassed. Evidence suggests that lack of scale and integrated planning is more marked in two tier areas of local government.

In addition, service delivery frameworks are largely un-coordinated between public, private and voluntary sector leisure providers, both nationally and at a local level. Provision is not optimised to demand and is likely to have the impact of ‘crowding out’ market efficiency, which could discourage new providers from entering the market.

The report identifies a number of opportunities for better co-ordination of public, private and voluntary sector activity and investment to meet the demands of improved quality of leisure services and increased participation in sport. Coordinating in this way would create synergies. This approach would involve moving away from a fragmented leisure market to a unified, but still diverse, flexible market operating within a common framework for delivery.

The report is available at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1510574