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National to slash support for grassroots sport

1 July 2008

National to slash support for grassroots sport

Sport and Recreation Minister Clayton Cosgrove said the National Party should come clean on which grassroots sports and recreation programmes it would deprive communities of, given the chance.

The National Party has attacked the government agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC), wrongly claiming that a third of its budget is spent on administration, when in fact SPARC’s total administration costs are only 12 percent.

Mr Cosgrove said National should get its facts straight.

“When National leader John Key is talking about administration and bureaucracy costs he is including the money that goes to develop and deliver a wide range of grassroots sport and recreation programmes around the country. This includes money to run workshops to up-skill our sports clubs so they can be efficient and financially viable; it includes money so our schools can employ Sport Co-ordinators to organise and run after-school and weekend sports tournaments for our kids; and successful national social awareness programmes such as Push Play, that uses popular media such as television to encourage all kiwis, young and old, to be physically active.”

Other programmes included on Mr Key’s so-called “administration costs” hit list include;

Club Kit (an online resource to help volunteers and officials organise and run their clubs); SPARC’s volunteers and officials programme; sport coaching programmes; Green Prescriptions (funding for doctor-prescribed physical activity for people with weight related health problems); He Oranga Poutama (community development programme that aims to increase physical activity levels of Maori); and Mission-On (a package of initiatives aimed at improving the lifestyles of young New Zealanders by targeting improved nutrition and increased physical activity).

Mr Cosgrove said the National Party’s sport and recreation policy is simplistic and bizarre.

“Mr Key is proposing to give more sports equipment to schools – but to cut the programmes and resources that SPARC provides to teachers to help them get the students using that sport equipment. And he wants to give more money to sports clubs – but cut the training and capability development programmes that SPARC provides to sport volunteers, officials and coaches so they can use that money effectively.”

Mr Cosgrove said National clearly thinks that SPARC should no longer provide any leadership in the sport and recreation sector or demand any accountability for the money it distributes. “Mr Key said to the media today that “in terms of schools, firstly the plan is literally to give them money and to measure them on a pretty low touch…high trust model which will simply say, here’s some more money, you can choose to spend it how you like,” so this party would provide no real support or capability development to the sport and recreation sector, but would just throw money at it, in the hope it would make a difference.”

Mr Cosgrove said the government’s role is to provide leadership and support, as well as funding, so that the sport and recreation sector can operate effectively at the grassroots and elite level. “It is only by providing this whole package that we can ensure kiwi kids develop a love of being active and grow up to be healthy adults as well as our future sporting heroes.”

*****

Background Questions and Answers

Is John Key correct in claiming that almost a third of the money SPARC receives never makes it outside its Wellington office?
This is incorrect. SPARC’s administration costs are approximately 12% of SPARC’s total budget, not 30 percent.

On average, SPARC spends around $100 million a year. The breakdown is as follows:

 Approximately 70 percent goes directly to funding sport and recreation organisations and individuals. This includes direct investment into National Sport and Recreation Organisations, Regional Sports Trusts, the NZ Academy of Sport and Prime Ministers Sports Scholarships
 12 percent goes to administration of SPARC. This includes office rental and running costs, and staff salaries, including those staff who manage and deliver national and regional programmes to schools and communities
 The remaining spend (around 18 percent) funds a wide range of SPARC programmes, resources and campaigns. Examples of these are listed below:

Push Play – a national campaign that includes TV, radio and billboard advertising to encourage people to be active

Seminar and leadership programmes – to up-skill staff in regional and national sport and recreation organisations;

Active Movement - developing basic movement skills in newborns to 5 year olds that is aimed parents

Sport Fit -funding is provided directly to secondary schools to employ Sports Co-ordinators who help organise sport and recreation activities for school children. For example, Sports and Recreation Co-ordinators help to organise weekend sports tournaments and transport for school teams.

Active Schools - teaching resources to assist schools in developing a physical activity culture

SPARC’s volunteers and officials programme – training, accreditation, and recognition programmes. This applies to people such as treasurers, coaches and officials.

He Oranga Poutama - community development programme that aims to increase physical activity levels of Maori
Green Prescriptions – funding for doctor-prescribed physical activity for people with weight related health problems (part funded through Pharmac)

Club Kit – an online resource to help volunteers and officials better run and organise their clubs

Manuals for primary teachers and secondary school sports coordinators
Mission-On - a package of initiatives aimed at improving the lifestyles of young New Zealanders by targeting improved nutrition and increased physical activity

These programmes are delivered directly to the grassroots, and are exactly the programmes Mr Key would have to cut in order to carry out his policy.

What sort of trend are we seeing with administration costs at SPARC?
Since SPARC was established in 2003, administrative costs have been cut from approximately 18 percent to 12 percent of total expenditure – a 30 percent drop in only five years. For 2007/08 this represents approximately $12.7million.

So what we are actually seeing is a trend of increasing efficiency in the face of more direct investment in the sport and recreation sector. This government has lifted taxpayer funding for sport and recreation from $2.5 million in 1999 to $69.5 million in 2007/08 (in addition to Lotteries funding). The total SPARC spend is approximately $100M a year.

ENDS

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