Greening announces £415m ‘sugar tax’ cash for new school sports facilities

Greening announces £415m 'sugar tax' cash for new school sports facilities

Schools will be able to bid for a slice of £415 million to fund new sports facilities, education secretary Justine Greening announced today.

The new Healthy Pupils Capital Programme funding – recouped from the government’s “sugar tax” – will be available from 2018.

The cash will be dished out through a central formula to local authorities or multi-academy trusts. Those bodies will then make spending decisions based on “local context”.

Schools in smaller trusts, standalone trusts and sixth form centres will have to bid for cash from a new Healthy Pupils Capital Fund.

Greening said the cash will help “secure the future health of our young people”.

“Schools can really help our children get a healthy start in life from exercise and sport, and also from knowing what a healthy diet means. It’s not only good for them while they’re in education, but the health and wellbeing benefits can last a lifetime.”

Primary, secondary and sixth form colleges can use the cash for facilities to support PE, after-school activities and healthy eating.

The government said facilities will be able to support children with physical conditions, or support young people struggling with mental health issues.

The cash is part of a £1.3 billion investment, alongside funding for PE and sport premium, breakfast clubs and universal infant free school meals.

The money comes from the soft drinks industry levy. The Treasury expects to raise £1.2 billion from the levy over two years from April 2018.

The government has also pledged the funding will not fall below £415 million regardless of the cash generated by the levy.

The Department for Education will confirm the allocation formula, spending guidance and bidding criteria in the summer.

Schools Week reported last year that the government wanted primary schools to provide at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day for pupils under a new strategy to tackle child obesity.

The Department of Health’s “Childhood obesity: a plan for action” also included a new voluntary “healthy schools rating scheme” to be introduced from September this year.