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Playgrounds: Finance

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding his Department plans to allocate to improving playgrounds in each year from 2008-09 to 2011-12; what cost/benefit analysis has been undertaken of this expenditure; and if he will make a statement. (201072)

In response to consistent feedback received from children, young people and their families that there are not enough safe and stimulating places for them to play, we have made the biggest ever investment in play by Government. A total of £235 million over the next three years (2008-09 to 2010-11) will be made available to all local authorities to provide a range of innovative play facilities, accessible to all children. A total of 30 ‘Pathfinder’ authorities will each receive on average £2 million capital and a substantial amount of revenue funding to develop public play areas and deliver 30 adventure playgrounds by 2011. By 2010 all the remaining authorities will each receive on average £1 million capital and a contribution towards their revenue costs to deliver our aim of developing up to 3,500 public play areas by 2011. The development of all sites will be shaped by local children, parents and communities to help meet the clear demand from the public for improved play facilities that our Children's Plan consultations revealed.

To inform a full cost-benefit analysis of the impact of this expenditure, my Department is currently piloting and testing, via the Pathfinder programme, innovative approaches to promoting and supporting the play areas we are developing. Through the evaluation of this programme, we will identify the impact of our capital investment as well as identifying the most cost-effective way of implementing further national roll-outs of adventure playgrounds and play areas beyond 2010-11.

In advance of the publication of “Fair Play: A Consultation on the Play Strategy” my Department completed a provisional value for money calculation expressed as the required reduction in future obesity costs resulting from play to offset the costs of the proposed spending. Other unquantified benefits such as attainment, emotional development and reduction in antisocial behaviour would only add to the attractiveness of our capital investment programme.