Today I spoke to the Business Sport and Leisure Annual conference at Lord's Cricket Ground.
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Thank you to Business in Sport and Leisure for giving me the opportunity to meet you in my new role as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
I know you had a close working relationship with my predecessor, Ivan Lewis and his team and I hope that we can build on that with my team - Clive Efford doing sport and Dan Jarvis doing arts and tourism
It's good to see you all working together in a sector which includes a diverse range of businesses which are all important to the theme of today's conference - how to deliver jobs and growth in the sport and leisure industry.
That is a task for you in the private sector. But it is also a public policy imperative for government. To ensure
- that there is the investment that is needed in people, industry and infrastructure and
• to ensure the right regulatory framework so that sports and leisure industries can grow, local communities have a say and people are protected from any harm.
It's a public policy imperative for all the reasons you set out
- because of its importance in people's lives
• because of its importance to our national identity. When I was on holiday in India last year it took me twice as long as any other nationality to get through passport control and baggage checks because they all wanted to talk to me about the cricket. It was quickly evident that they knew more about English cricket than I did.
• It's important to local communities. Supporters of sport crosses the generations. It's what local communities do together and gives a sense of place.
- because its of massive importance to the economy - for London and for the regions. Providing 4 million jobs.
• Your industry is particularly important for young people. - young people are inspired by sport. In Peckham, they walk taller when Rio Ferdinand reminds everyone that he came from Peckham.
• It is really damaging for young people to feel that they haven't got enough to do, they can't fulfil their potential and they can't find work. Sports and leisure inspires and engages young people and one in four young people in work are in your industry.
• Your industries are also essential to healthy living. For younger people - to get them into healthy habit of exercise and activity. But also because of its importance to the growing number of older people. People are living longer and that gives them more leisure in retirement and they need to do more activity and exercise to stay healthy. So your industries are going to need to grow not just for young people but as the population ages.
So it's not something that the government can and should say - "it's nothing to do with us. Just get on with it." It's a sector we must support to thrive.
We walked the talk in government
• We invested in the next generation to enable them to pursue their love of sports and arts. This was the importance of things like free swimming and schools-sports partnerships and preventing the sale of school playing fields.
• We secured major sporting events - the Olympics next year, the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the Rugby World Cup in 2015. Which generated excitement around sport here and puts Britain on the map for tourists worldwide
• We supported investment in the infrastructure - not just the massive Olympic park, but in regional theatres and seaside towns.
• We helped open up the countryside so that our unique coastline and the amazing natural beauty of our countryside was accessible and so would bring the tourism on which so many rural businesses rely.
The Tory Threat
But I know that you face big challenges, above all because of the state of the economy. The Tories' relentless and narrow focus on deficit reduction is bad for the economy and bad for the sector. As the economy stagnates and as unemployment rises, people's confidence falters and they cut back, and spending on sport and leisure will inevitably be hit.
And the industry will be directly hit by central government cuts and by cuts in local government.
It is bitterly disappointing that the Government have abolished the Future Jobs Fund which helped 5,000 young people find jobs in your industries
And there's a growing concern about what's happening to sport in schools.
The framework which we set up saw a huge increase in the number of children taking part in competitive sports from 58% to 78% - and this was for girls as well as boys.
But this is threatened - with the government's abolition of school sports partnerships, scrapping the protections we put in place for school playing fields and cutting local authority budgets to the bone.
It's not the case that this is just a change from the culture of what they call "prizes for all" to competitive sports. The truth is there are huge cuts and the widest possible participation helps competitive excellence.
Labour's plan for jobs and growth
Of course we must reduce the deficit but you can't do that by cutting so far and so fast that you squeeze the life out of the economy, undermine growth and increase unemployment. And that's what we fear the government is doing
That's why we are putting forward a 5 point plan for jobs and growth. It would help confidence which is so sadly lacking at present and afflicting the economy across the board.
- We want to reverse the damaging VAT rise
- We want tax breaks for industries like yours when you take on young people
- We want a bank bonus tax to fund jobs for young people in industries like yours.
And we want to work with you to map out a clear plan for jobs and growth in the sports and leisure industries. That must include:
- Support from local councils and in the regions - and round the country our local councils are trying to continue that despite the cuts.
- - ensuring young people have the skills you need
- supporting apprenticeships in the sport and leisure industry
- ensuring an Olympic legacy for future generations - not just for London but around the country.
And we want to have a sensible regulatory framework too. That includes ensuring our High Streets in low income areas - like in my constituency of Peckham - don't become blighted by too many betting shops that are becoming mini casinos, by giving local people and local councils a say over the shops on their high streets.
Not stopping people from enjoying the pleasure of placing a bet but protecting people from getting a problem gambling habit and giving local people the right to decide.
So I hope this is the start of a discussion about how we can support you to secure jobs and growth.
I hope that together we can work
- to develop a new plan for jobs and growth in sports and leisure
- to protect sport and leisure in our regions
- to protect sports in schools
- And to secure opportunities for young people in sports and leisure
That is vital for our economy, for our young people and for our country.