Sport for All in a financial crisis: survival and adaptation in competing organisational models of local authority sport services

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Abstract

This paper centres on the findings of research undertaken by the author for the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) that assesses local authority sport services in England in the context of an economic recession since 2008, the election of a national coalition government in 2010, and subsequent reductions in local government finance. The study took the form of a series of interviews with senior local authority personnel and sector representatives (n=55) underpinned by the findings of a nationwide survey (n=95) and a review of secondary sources. This paper centres on one theme to emerge from the study, namely, the demise of Sport for All, defined in terms of a government strategy designed to increase physical activity among the general population, in a context of financial attenuation and a political orientation away from direct state provision of services. The study found that competing organisational models of sport services across England underpin the retention or curtailment of Sport for All. In the ‘ensuring council’ model, sport services retain the core capacity to shape and deliver services an increasingly fragmented mixed local economy of provision. However, models that favour extending private or voluntary and community sector management pose significant challenges for councils seeking to retain Sport for All as a policy objective and as specific practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-228
JournalWorld Leisure Journal
Volume55
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Sport for All
  • local government
  • economic recession
  • the ‘ensuring council’
  • models of sport services.

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