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Elite Sport

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

I am pleased to be able to announce to the House the creation of a unique fundraising partnership for elite sport. The partnership brings together, for the first time ever, UK Sport, the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association to raise funds for elite sport, along with the London Organising Committee of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). All the partners have today agreed a formal heads of agreement to pool their collective rights to help raise additional funds for elite sport in the run-up to London 2012 and beyond. This follows on from the challenge I set UK Sport last December to put in place a new partnership within Government to develop our private fundraising effort.

Building on our Medal Hopes scheme the partners have assembled an enhanced package of rights for sale as an official LOCOG activation programme. This will offer sponsors rights to branding, access and events surrounding our Olympic and Paralympic sports. The scheme will allow businesses to be associated with the success of all Olympic athletes, and all Olympic sports, through the UK Sport’s World Class Performance Programme—rights that no other sponsorship deal can deliver.

This is why I believe, despite the challenging current economic conditions, the scheme has great potential for success. There will also be opportunities for regional and local companies, and individual patrons, to get involved in supporting our athletes.

In the 2006 Budget statement the Government announced a £600 million package for the remaining three years of the Beijing cycle and for the London cycle, comprising £200 million of Exchequer funding matched by £100 million of private sector investment, and supported by £300 million of lottery investment.

Last December I announced a record public sector funding settlement when I allocated a total of £550 million of public funds—an additional £50 million—to UK Sport to fund its elite programme. This consisted of additional Exchequer funding of £29 million to UK Sport over the four years to 2012; plus a projected uplift in lottery income of £21 million.

This meant that for the London cycle the elite sport system will receive £304 million, the highest level of public funding ever made available over a four-year Olympic-Paralympic cycle. UK Sport confirmed that this funding package enabled it to set a target to attain a place in the top four in the Olympic Games, and second place in the Paralympic Games in 2012—aiming to win more medals in more sports than in Beijing.

I was clear that this new funding was the limit of public investment in elite sport, with any further funding having to come from our private fundraising initiative. Since last summer we have been working with Fast Track Ltd and UK Sport in developing the Medal Hopes sponsorship package and this will now be subsumed within the new wider fundraising scheme.

However, my aim has not only been to keep the full fundraising ambition in play but also to establish a commercial funding structure to continue raising funds for elite sport beyond 2012. Funding has moved from lottery money for Sydney and Athens, to Exchequer and lottery money for Beijing, and now Exchequer, lottery and private money for London. I consider this mixed economy funding for elite sport to be the right long-term approach.

The creation of a unique fundraising partnership involving the wider Olympic family and the establishment of a third funding stream from the private sector will form a permanent legacy of the London Games. Both these measures, along with the record amount of public funding I have secured, leave elite sport with the best possible opportunity for a secure and successful future.