Essex County Council: Concerns over use of £10 million Sport England money

By Local Democracy Reporter
Piers Meyler

ESSEX County Council has dismissed concerns that almost £10million allocated from Sport England to the county is being used to mitigate against cuts made by the authority.

Colchester, Tendring and Basildon are expected to share £9.84m from Sport England to fund a programme of activity to reduce the number of people in Essex who are physically inactive.

Despite the county being one of the UK’s largest and most diverse, approximately 22 per cent of the population in Essex are classified as inactive, at a cost of around £58million to the NHS every year.

The lessons from the Essex Local Delivery Pilot to be tested in Basildon, Colchester and Tendring, which together represent 37 per cent of all inactive people in Essex, will be shared across Essex.

Essex was chosen by Sport England at the end of 2017 as one of 12 areas in England to undertake the ground breaking work because of the range of significant problems and opportunities which exist in the county.

The focus on using physical activity to tackle the worst social and health inequalities aims to increase physical activity, in particular targeting people who currently do under 30 minutes of physical activity per week and who live in the most deprived communities.

Currently, one in four Essex residents are inactive and carry out less than 30 minutes of physical exercise each week. People on low incomes are twice as likely to lead sedentary lifestyles.

However Cllr Ivan Henderson, speaking at cabinet today (June 18), said the council needed to be reminded that public health, activity and obesity budgets have been cut dramatically over the past two years by ECC.

“Is this money going to be new money which is meant to support these very causes or is this money going to subsidise the savings this council is making,” he asked.

Cllr John Spence, Cabinet Member for Adults Social Care, said: “We are only the third council area outside Birmingham and Manchester to receive this full funding.

“It is innovative and it is all going to be about how we reach out into those communities in order to get those people to engage.

“Success will be truly be measured on the lasting change it makes to the physically active. That will be the absolute core piece of this.

“This has nothing to do with ECC and budgets and had the leader been here he would have reminded you that questions have to be relevant to this paper.

“Let me assure you that my director of public health has assured me again that he is content with the budget he has.

“His team are in other ways innovating to engage.

“It is not always about spending money. It is about the effectiveness of your reach.”

He added: “The bulk of this money is going to our partner council of Tendring Colchester and Basildon and so even if we wanted, the money would not be available for subsidy.”

Categories: Social care
Authorities: Essex County Council

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