Press release: Nearly 200 leisure centres supported by Swimming Pool Support Fund

Sport England

November 4
00:01 2023

  • Over 100 local authorities awarded a share of 20 million to keep their swimming pools and leisure centres open
  • 60 million in total to be distributed over the next few months, to assist with increased operating costs and to improve sustainability
  • Supports Government ambition to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030

Swimming pools and leisure centres across England have today received a share of 20 million central Government funding to keep them afloat in response to increased operating costs.

Swimming is a valuable life skill for people of all ages, important for safety and both physical and mental health. Swim Englands latest Value of Swimming report showed how swimming helps generate social benefits, such as improved communities, skills and education worth 2.4 billion a year.

The Swimming Pool Support Fund was announced at the March Budget to support facilities with swimming pools. This first 20 million of funding is going to the swimming pools and leisure centres most at risk of closure or significant service reduction, and will be used to help with the recent rise in energy costs, such as paying towards immediate maintenance costs, heating and pool chemicals.

Todays announcement means that 196 leisure centres and swimming pools in 103 local authorities will benefit from this funding supporting over 23 million swims a year collectively, meaning millions of people across the country will have the chance to stay fit and healthy a, contributing to the Governments aim to cut obesity rates and get millions more people active.

Operating costs including but not limited to heating, alongside general inflationary pressure has increased considerably over recent months, with local authorities facing greater challenges to make ends meet as a result.

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said:

Leisure centres and pools are vital for millions of people to stay fit and healthy, and we know that many public swimming pools are experiencing greater pressure due to increased operating costs.

We have heard their concerns and have stepped in to help them make ends meet with 20 million immediate relief, and a further 40 million to help improve sustainability of public swimming pools over the long term.

This is part of our support for grassroots sports facilities with more than 400 million in order to achieve our ambitious target of getting 3.5 million more people active by 2030.

Five-time Olympic Swimmer Mark Foster said:

Swimming pools are at the heart of communities, and there are so many reasons why this funding to keep almost 200 open in England is so important.

From babies and children learning to swim, to older adults using their local pool to get active and socialise, swimming has a huge range of benefits and I am a passionate advocate for investment in the grassroots.

Executive Director for Place, Sport England, Lisa Dodd-Mayne said:

We know just how vital swimming pools and leisure centres are to our nations activity levels, which is why Sport England is proud to have played a central role in the delivery of this fund.

Many pools have faced a real and significant threat to their survival this year, as operators battle the challenge of increased energy and maintenance costs, weakened reserves and difficulties with retaining staff.

Todays announcement is an important moment in time, but is by no means the end of the work facing us or the support available as we continue to work with our partners to ensure the long-term viability of these vital community resources.

Over the coming months the recipients of a further 40 million will be announced. This part of the fund will be made available for investment in making the pools and leisure centres more energy efficient, including funding new heating systems and energy saving interventions. This is intended to help the long term energy and financial resilience of the sector.

The Government recently published its new sport strategy to get 2.5 million more adults and one million more young people meeting the Chief Medical Officers guidance of 150 minutes per week for adults, and 60 minutes per day for young people by 2030.

To help reach this target, this support for swimming pools is part of record investment of almost 400 million in grassroots facilities, including in multi-sport facilities and park tennis courts.

This also follows the 100 million National Leisure Centre Recovery Fund which has secured the survival and reopening of more than 1,100 swimming pools since 2019, with over 100 new facilities also being opened.

The John Warner Sports Centre in Broxbourne, which offers swimming lessons and sessions for people of all ages, has received almost 190,000 of funding to keep it open for the community,

Leader of Broxbourne Borough Council, Councillor Lewis Cocking said:>> There is currently particularly high demand for the Council run swim schools which serve a wide range, and diverse group of people including babies, families, students through to older residents and users with disabilities.>> In recent years, the rising cost of utilities have presented many challenges, specifically for the day-to-day running of our swimming pools. At the John Warner Sports Centre alone, since 2019/20 costs have increased by 375% for gas and 221% for electricity, putting at risk the financial viability of this service.>> I am therefore thrilled that the Council has been awarded this funding which will help ease the current pressures associated with rising energy costs for what is a highly valued centre that plays a vital role in supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of many of our residents.

These 196 facilities were chosen based on their risk of closure, the proximity to other swimming pools providing public swimming, and the level of demand for the facility.

The St Ives Leisure Centre in Cornwall for example, has received over 100,000 to support operating costs to allow it to continue to offer family and fitness swimming sessions. The Barnsley Metrodome Leisure Complex in South Yorkshire received 400,000, which will go towards keeping the venue and its Accessible Swim sessions running.

Others across the country include The Wave in Coventry, which received over 108,000 to keep its indoor waterpark running, and the Neptune Centre in Middlesbrough, which received 110,700 to go towards keeping its many classes open.

Notes to editors

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