By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

October 14 - UK Sport and Sport England are to be merged into one unified body after the London 2012 Olympics, it was officially announced by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) today.

The aim is to create a more unified, coherent and cost-effective structure as part of the Government’s 2012 Olympic Games legacy plans, a statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said.

The DCMS is also working with the Youth Sport Trust to explore how they could be brought into the new structure, they said.

The move is part of a Government plan to cull 200 quangos and merge another 150 agencies in what is billed as the biggest ever shake-up of public sector agencies as a part of a major-cutting exercise which Ministers hope will save up to £1 billion ($1.6 billion).

"Across Government we are increasing the efficiency, transparency and accountability of public bodies, while at the same time cutting their number and cost," said Hunt. 

"As part of that I will be abolishing or reforming a number of bodies in the culture, media and sport sectors. 

"These changes will allow us to continue to deliver some of the world’s best culture, media and sport, while at the same time ensuring efficiency, transparency and better value for money for the public."

Both Sue Campbell and Richard Lewis, the chairs of UK Sport and Sport England respectively, have warned that the planned merger must not be allowed to distract from preparations for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

A spokesman for Sport England told insidethegames: "Discussions are ongoing to examine how best to maximise the combined expertise and efficiency of our organisations to the benefit of sport as a whole."

But UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), another Government agency that falls under the DCMS, will not be affected by the changes.

They will continue to function as they are currently "on grounds of performing a technical function which requires impartiality".

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the Olympic Lottery Distributor (OLD) are also unaffected.

They were both due to be wound-up after London 2012.

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