Government misses minority sports targets

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Key targets designed to get minority groups involved in sport and culture have been missed, it emerged today.

The Government aimed to increase involvement in England by up to 3% among groups with low participation rates but has failed with 16 of the 20 targets it set in 2004.

The inability to get more people from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups, lower socio-economic groups and those with a limiting disability taking part has left the Government's inclusion agenda "in tatters", opponents said.

Research by the Liberal Democrats found that all eight of the targets relating to sport were missed, with the number of people with a limiting disability involved in active sport actually falling by 241,000.

While the aims for increasing BME attendance at arts events, historic environment sites and museums and galleries were hit, the only other success was in encouraging arts participation among lower socio-economic groups.

All of the targets relating to people with limiting disabilities were missed, with the number participating in the arts falling by 55,000. In the same category for people from lower socio-economic groups there was a drop of 43,000.

And the overall number of adults participating in arts activities fell by 195,000, the research found.

"The Government claimed they could provide sports and culture for all, but after a decade of setting targets and then failing to deliver their inclusion agenda is in tatters," said Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster.

"Everybody should have the opportunity to get involved in sports and culture but that won't be achieved by Whitehall diktats."

The research also discovered that funding body Sport England was not recording whether money was increasing access for minority groups, something Mr Foster labelled "unforgivable".

He added: "The responsibility does not rest solely with ministers.

"The failure of many of our sporting and cultural bodies to record where they're using public funds is unforgivable.

"Rather than simply issuing targets we need to think seriously about ring-fencing money to ensure those aspirations can be delivered."