CHILDREN ARE SHORT-CHANGED
The extent to which children are not receiving a fair deal in their leisure is characterised by the fact that, on adult recreation, arts, leisure etc, the government, through the Arts and Sports Councils this year, will spend over £280 millions on these adult past-times. By comparison, Fair Play can at most add together less than £10 millions a year spent by the government on Children's Play. If children make up 20% of the population, they should surely receive AT LEAST £56 millions a year from central government alone. The picture at local government level is no more encouraging - some areas devote less than 1% of their cultural and leisure expenditure to children's needs.
The picture at local authority level is not encouraging. In 1994/5, local authorities spent on arts, recreation, sports and leisure some £1.268 billion (excluding libraries). The same authorities spent £62.48 million on Children's Play (play areas, organised schemes etc), or just 4.9% of the total arts-leisure spending above. Yet children under 16 constitute some 20% of the population - are they, Fair Play asks, benefitting in proportion to their numbers in terms of local authority spending?
This chronic under-resourcing is not new.
EVERY GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN TO BLAMEThe UN Convention's implications demand that we redress this balance to give our children "appropriate and equal" opportunity to share in the cultural resources of the country. It is significant that one Opera House can receive more state subvention than all of children's play annually. The Opera House is a centre of excellence - there are many centres of excellence for children facing closure, failing to develop or start, because adults have failed to be fair to children in this most essential aspect of their lives.