DCMS committed to sport funding despite Brexit – although emergency Budget could change landscape

Government funding for Sport England and UK Sport is not expected to be cut as a result of the UK voting to leave the European Union – although the landscape could change if chancellor George Osborne decides to call an emergency Budget. 

Earlier this week culture secretary John Whittingdale met with chairs and chief executives of the arms-length bodies of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – including Sport England and UK Sport – to reassure them that there won’t be any “immediate changes”. 

Sports Management understands that the DCMS is working on the basis that the funding settlement agreed with both quangos will remain intact despite the vote, which is expected to have consequences for the UK economy and public finances. 

Last November, the chancellor increased UK Sport’s exchequer funding by 29 per cent to £148m (US$191.5m, €172.7m) for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle, while Sport England managed to negotiate a £1.4bn (US$1.8bn, €1.6bn) pot over this parliament, which is in line with what it received between 2010 and 2015. 

However, a government source said that an emergency Budget is likely following the 23 June result. Prior to the referendum, Osborne claimed that he would have to cut public spending in the event of a Brexit vote, although how – or if – that will affect sport is unclear. 

Last year the government made a significant commitment to sport with the publication of the Sporting Future strategy – the biggest piece of sporting policy in over a decade. Sports minister Tracey Crouch rejoined the cabinet this week following her maternity leave and is intent on seeing the blueprint though. 

Over the coming months, Whittingdale will arrange meetings and roundtables with industry stakeholders to discuss “opportunities” presented by the vote and to find out how the department can best support them during a period of uncertainty. 

While Sport England and UK Sport funding receives no money from the European Union, it remains to be seen how other methods of sports funding – such as the EU-devised ERASMUS+ – will be distributed to UK organisations following Brexit. 

Between 2014 and 2016, €2.8m (£2.4m, US$3.1m) in ERASMUS+ funding has been awarded to seven UK sports projects. The UK’s eligibility for the funding will depend on subsequent negotiations, but while non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland can benefit from ERASMUS+ funding, organisations from the nations cannot be the lead bidder or shape the project applying for the cash.


First published on www.sportsmanagement.co.uk, written by Matthew Campelli, 7 Jul 2016