Child engaging in physical activity

LGA responds to report on children’s health and leisure

A survey from Sport England has identified how the levels of children and young people’s activity have remained stable across the 2022-23 academic year.


Published in the latest Active Lives Children and Young People Survey Report[JD1] , findings outlined how the numbers of children and young people that are engaging in 60 minutes or more of sport per day have risen since the survey began in 2017-18, however they are also in line with the figures from the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Image credit: Sport England

Credit: Sport England

Also seen in the report, is the fact that the levels of participation in physical activity vary greatly, with major inequalities being seen across different groups. Black and Asian children, children from least affluent background, and girls are less likely to be physically active than the overall average. Cost of living concerns are playing a role in the amount of engagement between young people and physical activity, with this being evidenced in previous research.

There has been an increase, as well, in the number of children that are not engaging in activity at all, with this amounting to 600,000 children in England that are having no engagement with physical activity.

With councils working to improve the sporting and leisure opportunities for communities, the Local Government Association responded to the survey, saying:

“It is positive that children and young people’s overall activity levels have remained stable across 2022-23, however this data demonstrates the challenges ahead of us and the ongoing inequalities facing girls, black and Asian children, young people and the least affluent who remain the least active groups.

“Councils have been working hard to prioritise public sport and leisure facilities for their communities and work in partnership with charities, the NHS and schools and use public resources to keep services going. However, our analysis shows that councils in England face a £4 billion funding gap over the next two years just to keep services standing still.

“Without additional funding, councils will have to make increasingly tough decisions about which services to prioritise. We urgently need a strategic approach across government departments to identify and tackle the barriers to children and young people and the least active groups to increase their activity levels.”

There are positives to be identified in the report, with the number of girls playing football has increased since England won the Women’s Euros in the summer of 2022. One million more children and young people are engaging in active travel, as well, with the numbers of active travel that saw increases over the pandemic maintaining as restrictions were lifted and life returned to normal.


Image credit: iStock | Sport England

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