Council leaders are calling for more control over sports and leisure funding in a bid to reduce the ‘alarming’ levels of premature deaths.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the Government should devolve funding away from national sports bodies to councils and local partners to help support grassroots sports programmes. Research shows that a third of all deaths are premature and could have been prevented by lifestyle changes.
The LGA is warning councils are facing 35% cuts to their sport and leisure budgets over the next four years, which will make it harder to encourage people to take up grassroots sports.
Cllr Ian Stephens, chairman of the LGA's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board said: ‘Most grassroots sports take place in swimming pools, leisure centres and open spaces owned or managed by councils, which is why they are best placed to address this issue.
‘Councils need the opportunity to spend this sports funding in the most effective way – on the parks, playing fields and facilities where it can best reach the most people to get active and feel healthier.’
Research shows that nearly 60% of adults do not play sport, while 40% of women and a third of men do not meet government guidelines for weekly exercise.