Government policy for play
The Play Strategy and other government policy
The Play Strategy sets out the government’s
commitment to delivering better play opportunities in England.
It’s supported by a £235 million investment, with the aim of
ensuring every residential area has a variety of high-quality
places for all children to play safely and free of charge. This
will mean up to 3,500 new or refurbished play areas to be developed
by 2011, plus 30 new adventure playgrounds or play parks.
Government funding through The Play Strategy is intended to enhance
and improve local authority provision. Local authorities should not
be using this funding to replace or otherwise scale back on local
play funding and budgets.
Of course, when local people have a sense of ownership and
responsibility for their children’s play spaces, they are usually
more willing to look after the facilities. That’s why local
authorities are required under the terms and conditions of The Play
Strategy grant programme to ensure children and communities are
engaged and consulted, involving them in design, planning and
ongoing ownership of these play spaces.
The government expects local authorities to ensure that
communities and the third sector will be engaged and involved in
the delivery of local play provision.
The Play Strategy includes a commitment to increase supervision
of play and volunteering by supporting the links between local
authorities, the third sector and community policing. This
recognises the role of parents and other local people as
volunteers, as well as the role of qualified playworkers, play
rangers and friends of parks groups, in supporting local play
Local Area Agreements
Your local authority will have a Local Area Agreement (LAA) and
will undergo a Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA) inspection.
Each LAA has a selection of specified national indicator
targets, drawn from the National Indicator Set, which have been
agreed by the local authority and government as priorities for the
As part of the annual CAA process, the joint inspectorate will
also perform a more general assessment of every top tier local
authority against the full range of national indicators and local
services, including play and leisure provision. The CAA will also
take into account your local authority's performance in meeting
local priorities as identified in the LAA.
From April 2009, the National Indicator Set includes a new
indicator, NI 199. This measures the satisfaction of children and
young people with their local parks and play areas.
Play England has produced information about how play contributes
to the National Indicator Set and it is worth considering which
indicators are prioritised in your area’s LAA. This will help you
argue the case for your play project if you are seeking funding or
support from your local council or other government supported
More information about local strategic planning for play
provision and involving residents and communities groups can be
found in Embedding the Play Strategy, which Play England published
for consultation in October 2009.
The Communities and Local Government White
Paper Communities in Control: real people, real power
offers a blueprint for how communities can be given more control
over local decisions and services.
It gives individuals and communities real opportunities to
better influence children’s services and the provision of local
In April 2009, a new duty on local councils to involve local
people in key decisions was introduced, encouraging local
authorities to develop a culture of community engagement, including
when regenerating or developing play space. Connecting Communities,
a new programme announced in October 2009, will provide support for
local neighbourhoods and estates to strengthen local leadership,
give people a voice and increase local opportunities.
Communities and the third sector
The Office of the Third Sector (OTS) aims to
build a thriving third sector.
It supports the work of voluntary and community groups, social
enterprises, charities, cooperatives and mutuals.
Its work, as part of the Cabinet Office, is enabling the sector
to campaign for change, deliver public services, promote social
enterprise and strengthen communities. Between 2008-2011, OTS will
invest over £515 million in third sector programmes.
In summary, OTS works in partnership with central and local
government and the third sector to:
- enable campaigning and empowerment, particularly for those at
risk of social exclusion
- strengthen communities, drawing together people from different
sections of society
- transform public services, through delivery, design, innovation
- enable social enterprise growth and development, combining
business and social goals.