01 April 2004
Lottery funds earmarked for school sports facilities will have reached the front line by 2006, the culture and sports secretary told MPs this week.
Tessa Jowell came under pressure from the Commons' health select committee, which is examining the obesity problem, to explain why only £8.5m of the £750m of New Opportunities Fund money promised for school sports in 2000 has been spent so far.
She said that allocating money to local education authorities and then waiting for them to organise a bid was time-consuming. 'Individual projects have to be designed, contracted for and put out to tender.'
Jowell added that when Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the scheme in September 2000 he made it clear it would be a five-to-six-year project.
To date, £222m of NOF money has been committed to 601 projects in England, which are due for completion in 2006.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman told Public Finance that delays were also compounded because the NOF needed to ensure that newly built facilities had a long-term use. But he acknowledged that the government would like faster progress.