Three London boroughs feature in top ten play defunders

The London boroughs of Bexley, Hillingdon and Richmond are among the ten local authorities that have slashed their play budgets the most over the past five years, according to a report commissioned by play equipment manufacturer, ESP Play.

The Play Gap report reveals that Bexley had cut spending on play by  a whopping 74 per cent; while Hillingdon slashed revenue spending by 62 per cent and Richmond by 52 per cent.

On crunching the numbers further London Play found that spending on play per head of population (adults and children) is now just 17p in Bexley,

The report also reveals that average spending per region varies wildly. The highest spending local authorities are in Yorkshire & Humberside, where they  invest an average of £671,643 in play; while in the North East it is less than £98,000 per council. At £391,166, London boroughs’ average play spend is somewhere in the middle.

Some 146 of 187 councils across England responded to the Freedom of Information request about changes to spending on maintenance, improvement or development of children’s playgrounds since 2018/19.

Helen Dodd, Professor of Child Psychology at the University of Exeter and Trustee of Play England says in the foreword to the report:

“National data for school-aged children living in Britain showed that, away from home, children play most at playgrounds and in green space. This means that good quality playgrounds form an important part of children’s play opportunity and experience. Playgrounds ideally should be designed to appeal to a wide range of children and have open-ended play opportunities that allow children to be creative about how they interact with the facilities.”

Managing director of ESP Play Andrew Wood said:

“Our mission is a call to action for policymakers and communities to prioritise children’s wellbeing. By fostering partnerships and collective efforts, we can redefine the landscape of play, ensuring every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

You can read the full report here

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