A new report has revealed the importance of the Sport and Physical Activity sector to the Suffolk economy.
Undertaken by specialist economic development and regeneration consultancy Hatch Regeneris, the report shows that the sector contributes £270m a year to the Suffolk economy. This accounts for over 10,000 jobs or 3% of all employment in Suffolk and is almost double the proportion seen at national levels.
The report shows that employment in the sector has grown at a faster rate than all other sectors in Suffolk, up 60% in the last 5 years. By contrast, employment in financial and professional services has grown by 10% over the same period.
Patrick Ransom, Senior Consultant with Hatch Regeneris, said “Our work highlights that the Sport and Physical Activity sectors are growing rapidly in Suffolk and there is a higher concentration of jobs in the sectors than in other places. Public and private sector partners should work together to unlock further growth and help the sectors reach their potential.”
The report highlights the importance of continuing the drive towards increasing participation as a way of both improving productivity and reducing the spend on health and social care. It estimates that a reduction of just 10% in Suffolk employee sickness rates would give the Suffolk economy a boost of £42m annually.
The report also recognises both the importance of the sector in providing a stepping stone into employment as well as a gateway into higher skilled jobs. The report also highlights the need for organisations in Suffolk work together to respond to the future skills needs of a growing sector.
In relation to events, the report acknowledges that Suffolk has a busy annual sporting calendar with potential to grow further. Events like the Great East Swim generate an estimated £¾ million to the county annually. The county’s event programme could be further enhanced to include events like an Ironman or a large-scale beach sports event. This could cement Suffolk’s reputation as a leader in the sector and attract people from different parts of the country and stimulate local economic spend.
Cllr James Reeder, Cabinet Member for Health, said: “Undoubtedly, sport and physical activity is integral to Suffolk life. Not only is it essential to the health and wellbeing of the whole community it also makes an important contribution to the local economy in terms of spending, output and employment.
“Despite this, the contribution that sport makes to the economy has not, to date, been fully acknowledged. It is therefore essential that we fully understand the potential of the Sport and Physical Activity sector in Suffolk and work collaboratively to maximise its contribution to the economy.”
Doug Field, chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “A growing Sport and Physical Activity sector is a double win for our economy – helping business by creating jobs and improving our visitor offer to the world, while also benefitting the health and increasing the productivity of our workers.
“This report shows just how quickly the sector is growing, which is evidence of the success of the Most Active County Partnership so far. But there’s also potential to do even more – to work with business to create a culture of health and wellbeing, and to promote Suffolk as a great place to participate in sport and physical activity.”
John Dugmore, Chief Executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said “Suffolk Chamber’s involvement in supporting the health and wellbeing agenda by encouraging local businesses to help boost their productivity has highlighted to us the growing significance of the sport and physical activity sectors to the county.
“These sectors are important in themselves because of the number of jobs they provide, but also as their presence is an opportunity to deliver improvements to the workplace health of all of Suffolk’s workforce.
“We look forward to working with others on the Most Active County Partnership to build on this growing strength.”
The full report can be viewed at www.suffolk.gov.uk/assets/council-and-democracy/council-news/Suffolk-Economic-Assessment-of-Sports-and-Physical-Activity-Sectors.pdf