Access to English public sector sports facilities by disadvantaged groups and the effect of financial objectives

TAYLOR, Peter, PANAGOULEAS, Thanos and KUNG, Shia Ping (2011). Access to English public sector sports facilities by disadvantaged groups and the effect of financial objectives. Managing Leisure, 16 (2), 128-141.

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Public sports facilities in the England have long been subject to questioning in terms of justifying the subsidies that government provides for their operations. This questioning often relates to the types of customers who use these facilities, the logic being that subsidies are justified more when sufficient use is made by ‘disadvantaged' or socially excluded groups. This is particularly the case in the period since 1997, when the policy focus on social inclusion has been considerable. Central government subsidies for sports in England amounted to £668 million in 2004. Typically, over 60% of such subsidies go to support the operations of sports and leisure centres provided by local authorities. This paper uses data from a national service for sports and leisure centres to examine their usage by disadvantaged groups – termed ‘access' performance in this service. First, the evidence from the 2006 data shows mixed evidence of ‘success' in attracting such groups – although defining ‘success' is a difficult task. Second, evidence from the period 1997–2006 fails to show clear signs of improvements in the usage of these centres by disadvantaged groups. Third, evidence of financial performance over the same period gives rise to the notion that financial objectives for such centres may have been more important to local authorities than socially inclusive use of the facilities. Regression analysis is conducted to identify the relationship between financial performance and access performance. This suggests that there is only a weak relationship between finance and access performance. The implications of this analysis are that socially inclusive use of centres should not be seen as detrimental to financial performance when establishing strategies for such facilities, and a greater emphasis on securing the use of disadvantaged groups is necessary to justify the subsidies they receive.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: UoA26
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sport Industry Research Centre
Identification Number:
Page Range: 128-141
Depositing User: Rebecca Jones
Date Deposited: 21 May 2012 13:38
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 23:01

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