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Sport and Wellbeing: Covid-19 Recovery Strategy

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 26 January 2021

Sport and wellbeing is of major importance to this Government as we manage the effects of the pandemic. That is why we announced the £300 million sport winter survival package to protect major spectator sports, why we have supported clubs through covid business support schemes, such as the furlough scheme, and why we have introduced the £100 million national leisure recovery fund to support publicly owned leisure facilities through this crisis.

The Chief Secretary shares my passion and enthusiasm for sport, and I know that he appreciates the consequences of good physical and mental health on the wellbeing of individuals, but he may also be aware that poor physical health and wellbeing cost the Treasury tens of billions of pounds per annum. Given that covid-19 has had a negative impact on both, does he agree that our recovery strategy should put sport, physical activity and wellbeing at its heart, and will he consider the merits of a wellbeing budget that looks at shifting the focus away from GDP as the only measure of economic growth?

I agree with my hon. Friend that sport and wellbeing should be at the heart of our recovery plans and pay tribute to the work that she has done not just on football but on sport and loneliness in championing these issues. There are lessons from other countries that we can look at as well. One of the areas that I am very keen to work with her on are the opportunities around social prescribing, where the role of sport and wellbeing—in terms of how we treat people with regard to mental health and recovery from covid—has a lot to offer, and I know that she will continue to champion that.