Budget: National foundation takes aim at obesity epidemic

A national foundation to fund grassroots sport and aid the Government's drive to tackle childhood obesity moved a step closer when Gordon Brown announced £27m for the project.

A national foundation to fund grassroots sport and aid the Government's drive to tackle childhood obesity moved a step closer when Gordon Brown announced £27m for the project.

The National Sports Foundation (NSF) will only get off the ground if the Government's funding is at least matched by contributions from corporate sponsors and governing bodies.

The NSF will distribute money to build sports facilities and successful applicants will have to prove that their projects will convert maximum numbers to taking up exercise.

The announcement will also signal the Government's increased commitment to sport just four months before London's bid to stage the Olympic Games is decided.

Ministers hope the NSF will match the success of the Football Foundation which, since its launch five years ago, has invested in 1,600 football projects worth a total of £390m.

It is thought that distributors of NSF cash are unlikely to favour football projects but other mass participation sports such as cricket may be a priority.

The scheme will have gained momentum thanks to the funding announcement. But much now depends on the outcome of a review of government- and Lottery-funded sports bodies being conducted by Patrick Carter, the head of Sport England, which distributes Lottery cash to grassroots projects.

The NSF will increase the chance of meeting targets on the number of hours devoted to sport in schools. Over the next four years the Government aims to increase the number of children spending more than two hours a week playing sport from 25 per cent to 85 per cent.

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