Intervention needed as grassroots facilities face ‘final straw’ if energy relief ends.

Leading bodies for health, sport, fitness and leisure urge Prime Minister to intervene as grassroots facilities face 'final straw' if energy relief ends
Child playing with ball

A coalition of more than 200 bodies and individuals* from the worlds of health, sport, recreation, and leisure has written to the Prime Minister with an urgent plea for greater support for grassroots facilities and clubs amid the ongoing energy crisis.

With energy costs relief for the UK’s swimming pools, leisure centres, community facilities, and gyms ending on 31 March, thousands of facilities and clubs are at risk of permanent closure or reduced services, as public and private sector organisations of all sizes face unprecedented financial challenges, with bills remaining up to 200% higher than normal.

For public leisure operators running services within local authorities, the latest data from ukactive’s members shows that 31% of council areas in England remain at risk of losing their leisure centre(s) or seeing reduced services at their leisure centre(s), from 1 April**, with around 350 facilities nationally already having seen service restrictions, temporary and permanent closures since October 2022.

The signatories of the letter range from major health bodies to sport’s national governing bodies, and the nation’s biggest fitness and leisure groups, while athletes such as Rebecca Adlington and celebrities including Davina McCall have also added their support.

The letter warns that, “Failure to identify bespoke support for the sector (and schools operating sports facilities) as part of the Energy Bills Discount Scheme will be the final straw for many facilities and services – especially swimming pools.

“Without national intervention, communities will see the loss of essential local services, including swimming lessons for children which are vital for water safety; multi-sport offerings; mental health services; bespoke programmes for older citizens, ethnically diverse communities, women and girls, and disabled people; and long-term health programmes including cancer rehabilitation and support for those with musculoskeletal conditions and type 2 diabetes.”

Within the letter, the coalition calls for the Government to:

  • Reclassify swimming pools as energy intensive as part of the Energy Bills Discount Scheme so they have access to the higher level of discount on energy prices.
  • Set out what tangible support it will provide to the wider sector – including gyms, leisure centres, sports facilities, and clubs –to help navigate the energy crisis across 2023 so that service restrictions and facility closures can be minimised.
  • Set out a “plan for growth” for the sector by aligning the proposed new Sports Strategy with the Spring Budget to unlock the potential of the sector to support the economic, health, educational and social wellbeing of the nation.

The letter was coordinated a group of bodies, including: Active Partnerships, the Association for Public Service Excellence, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, the Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association, Community Leisure UK, District Councils’ Network, the Local Government Association, Sported, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Sport for Development Coalition, Swim England, the Swimming Teachers’ Association, the Youth Sport Trust, and ukactive.

Andy Taylor, CEO of Active Partnerships said: “We know being active can transform people’s lives, improving their physical and mental wellbeing. Many of our facilities providing activity opportunities and delivering these benefits are at the heart of local communities. It is therefore vital that we support facilities to not just survive but create the conditions for them to thrive in continuing to provide opportunities for people who are too often facing the greatest barriers to leading an active lifestyles.”

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “Over two hundred organisations and prominent individuals are united in urging the Government to safeguard essential community facilities across the country that remain under threat of service restrictions and closure, impacting people of all ages and backgrounds.

“Pools, gyms, leisure centres, and community facilities form part of our social fabric, and they are vital for our nation’s health and the economy. Action must be taken to protect our facilities, and to help them recover and grow so they can in turn support the growth of a healthier, happier, more productive nation.”

Jane Nickerson, Chief Executive of Swim England, said: “The breadth of organisations who have joined forces to send such a clear message to the Government demonstrates the hugely important role our pools and leisure centres play in supporting the health of the nation and the seriousness of the situation these facilities are facing as a result of hugely increased energy costs.

“It’s vital they get the support they need so they can remain at the heart of local communities, helping people lead healthier and happier lives and reducing pressures on the NHS and social care system.”

Read the full letter here. To support the sector, contact your MP with your concerns.

*The signatories:

Active Partnerships

Association for Public Service Excellence

Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity

Community Leisure UK

Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association

District Councils’ Network

Local Government Association

Sported

Sport and Recreation Alliance

Sport for Development Coalition

Swim England

Swimming Teachers’ Association

Youth Sport Trust

ukactive

1Life Management Solutions

Abbeycroft Leisure

Active IQ

Active Nation

Activity Alliance

Alliance Leisure Services

Anytime Clubs UK

Archery GB

Arthritis Action

Association of British Climbing Walls Atrium Fitness

Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists

Badminton England

Barnsley Premier Leisure

Baseball Softball

UK Basketball England

BH Live

Boccia England

British American Football Association

British Association of Sport Rehabilitators and Trainers

British Canoeing

British Cycling

British Dressage

British Equestrian

British Fencing

British Gymnastics

British Ice Skating

British Judo

British Mountaineering Council

British Paralympic Association

British Rowing

British Shooting

British Showjumping

British Swimming Pool Federation

British Taekwondo

British Triathlon

British Water Ski & Wakeboard

British Weightlifting

British Wheelchair Basketball

British Wrestling

Club Kingswood

Code Fitness

Coordinate Sport

David Lloyd Leisure

Durham County Council

Edinburgh Leisure

Edstart Sports Coaching

eGym

GmBH

EMD UK

Endurance GB

England and Wales Cricket Board

England Athletics

England Bowls

England Boxing

England Golf

England Handball

England Hockey

England Lacrosse

England Netball

England Squash

English Indoor Bowling Association

Everybody Health & Leisure

Fisikal

Fitness First Clubs

Fitness4Less

Freedom Leisure FTC Gym

Fusion Lifestyle

GB Boxing

Gladstone

GM Active

Goalball UK Good Boost

Great Britain Diving Federation

Great Britain Outrigger

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby

Greenhouse Sports

GLL

Halo Leisure

Hurlingham Polo Association

InBody UK

InspireAll

International Longevity Centre

UK Junior Adventure Group

Karate Union of Great Britain

Keepme

Laban Guild International

Leeds City Council – Sport

Leisure-net Solutions

Lifestyle Fitness

Limbpower

Miha Bodytec

Mosaic Spa & Health Clubs

Move it or Lose it Move Technologies

Myzone

North Lanarkshire Council

Nuffield Health

Orbit4

Orthopaedic Research UK

Outdoor Industry Association Parkour UK

Parkwood Leisure

Pentathlon GB

Places Leisure

PureGym

Quartz Sequoia Events

Richmond Group of Charities

Rounders England

Royal Life Saving Society

UK Royal Yachting Association

Rugby Football League

Rugby Football Union

Scottish Leisure Network

Group Sense

Simply Smiles

Skateboard GB

SLM Community Leisure Charity Trust

SLM Health and Fitness

Snowsport England

Snowsport Wales

Sport Aberdeen

Sport for Confidence

Sports Leaders

Squash Wales

Stevenage Leisure

Surfing England

Swim Wales

Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association Table Tennis England

The Food Addiction Coach The Golf Foundation

The Gym Group

Thomas Pocklington

Trust Total Fitness

Trilogy Active

UK Athletics

UK Ultimate Vivify

Volleyball England

Wales Golf

Wales Netball

Water Babies

Watford FC Community Trust

Welsh Athletics

Welsh Cycling

Welsh Judo

Welsh Sports Association

Welsh Triathlon

Women In Sport

Women’s Sport Collective

Zoom Media

Rebecca Adlington OBE

Chemmy Alcott

Claire Cashmore MBE

Ed Clancy OBE

James Cracknell OBE

Ben Cutmore

Sharron Davies MBE

Laura Deas

Sam Downie

Mark Foster

Chelsie Giles

Luke Greenbank

Duncan Goodhew MBE

Mike Goody

Charlie Guest Michael Gunning

Alfie Hewett

Anna Hopkin MBE

Andy Jameson

Liz Johnson

Matty Lee MBE

Davina McCall

Scarlett Mew Jensen

Adrian Moorhouse MBE

Steve Parry MBE

Keri-Anne Payne

Jonnie Peacock MBE

Karen Pickering MBE

Scott Quin

Rebecca Redfern

Ellie Robinson MBE

Will Sach MBE

Kate Shortman

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix

Alice Tai MBE

Leon Taylor

Iwan Thomas

Daley Thompson CBE

Isabelle Thorpe

Dr Mike Tipton MBE

Lloyd Wallace David Weir CBE

Professor Greg Whyte OBE

Marc Woods

Melanie Woods

** Risk register assessment survey conducted by the ukactive Research Institute with ukactive public sector leisure operator members. Responses were received from 21 national and multi-site operators, representing 35% of all UK council areas (February 2023)

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