Tuesday, 11 September 2012

FOI survey of English Councils shows unfair play cuts to childrens play

Fair Play for Children has discovered that English Councils are unfairly cutting funding for childrens play.

Children's Play and Youth Services have suffered markedly greater cuts over three years than comparable adult leisure services accrding to a Freedom of Information Survey conducted by Fair Play for Children, the independent organisation campaigning for the Child's Right to Play in the UK.

The Survey was aimed at 354 English Local Authorities - London Boroughs, Unitary, Counties and Non-Unitary Districts. Only 217 responded, so that 137 Councils remain in breach of their statutory duty to respond, despite reminders being sent.

Fair Play has correlated the results and issued a report published today, 11th September 2012. Unfair Play for Children presents the results in terms of Council expenditure over three years: 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. The full report is accessible here:


  • Council's cut main espenditure to 93.1% from 2011-12
  • Adult leisure to 86.9%
  • Council-run playschemes to 87.6% (holidays only)
  • Other Council staffed provision 81.3%
  • Grant aid to voluntary bodies providing play facilities 66.2%
  • Play Areas, unstaffed (Capital) 62.5%
  • Play Areas (revenue) mainly maintenance 94.1%
  • Youth Services 75.9%
Over the three years, spending on children's play dropped as a % of spend on adult leisure as follows: 12.45%, 9.39% and 7.99%, a situation described by Fair Play's National Secretary, Jan Cosgrove, as "simply unacceptable, unfair and worrying".

He pointed out that these figures cover part of the economic crisis period, and the first 2 years of the Coalition Government, and that it had made it clear that it would not be following the previous Labour Government's trend towards a national policy framework for Children's Play. It had stated early on that it regarded Play as more suitable for a localism approach. "Frankly, that is whatv existed before, and it meant all throughout that kids had an unfair deal.

"Given the deep and growing concerns how children's health and the drop in their access to informal play space over the past 30 years or more, this cannot be the right time to make such unfair cuts. Play has to be treated now as a Health issue, as time and again it has been shown that Play delivers better healthreturns than organised PE and Sport, and at much less cost

"We advocate a national policy framework for play, Local Play Partnerships with kids at the centre, with their parents, a national play funding mechanism akin to the Sports and Arts Councils for adult leisure, a return to Play Streets on a large and daily scale.

"The Government has to wake up and do its duty in international law - the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which we are signed up to, not only proclaims a Right to Play, Rest and Recreation but also to children having the Right to appropriate and equal opportunity to participate in cultural and recreational activity. That must include fair deals on spending.

""The era of Unfair Play for Children has to end."

Other Links:
Stolen Streets, Stolen Childhood (2011) http://www.fairplayforchildren.org/pdf/1319380454.pdf

Fair Play for Children Freedom of Information Survey on Playground Provision in England 2011 http://www.fairplayforchildren.net/survey1.htm

Fair Play for Children Manifesto 2010: http://www.fairplayforchildren.org/pdf/1271101351.pdf

Contact Jan on 01243-862072

Fair Play for Children
Matt Cosgrove
15b Highfield Road
PO22 8BQ Bognor Regis