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23 Mar 2021

Leisure centres to share £100m government funding
BY Tom Walker

Public leisure centres and health clubs will be able to open their doors on 12 April

Public leisure centres and health clubs will be able to open their doors on 12 April
photo: Shutterstock/Standret

A total of £100m has been allocated to 266 local authorities across England, to support the recovery of publicly-owned leisure centres and health clubs.

Facilities have received grants from the National Leisure Recovery Fund, launched in December 2020 to provide a funding platform for the public leisure sector to successfully reopen.

Funded by the Government and managed by Sport England, the funding is part of the government's ‘building back fitter’ initiative and will aim facilities prepare for reopening on 12 April.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "We know that Local Authorities have faced significant financial pressure as a result of the pandemic so this £100m for leisure will be vital in helping them recover.

"Communities across England rely on their local leisure centre or gym to help them keep fit and healthy and this funding will assist those public facilities to make ends meet."

Huddleston added that the £100m is in addition to grassroots sports and the physical activity sector benefiting from £270m in emergency funding delivered by Sport England.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: "Leisure facilities have a vital role to play in supporting the health of the nation and in particular in serving our more disadvantaged communities.

"They have been hit especially hard over the past year, so this investment is crucial and will help thousands to reopen when it becomes possible to do so – supporting the recovery and helping people get back to the activity they have badly missed.

"Sport England has worked at pace to enable the distribution of the investment to happen as quickly as possible and remains committed to doing what we can to continue to support this crucial part of our sector."

To see a full list the local authorities in receipt of National Leisure Recovery Funds, click here.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “We welcome the quick distribution of this December 2020-announced government funding by Sport England, and support the work of local authorities to ensure it gets to facilities as quickly as possible to aid their financial recovery.

“However, this recovery fund was originally agreed to help reopening facilities at the start of 2021, yet the third lockdown has once again seen the closure of gyms, pools, and leisure centres.

“As a result, the urgent need remains for greater financial support from the Government for these essential facilities in order to support ensure their survival and recovery.

“The recent Budget statement fell short in this regard, failing both to provide crucial additional funding for the National Leisure Recovery Fund, and also omitting gyms from the temporarily reduced rate in VAT.

“Looking forward, failure to provide greater financial support for gyms, pools, and leisure centres puts a significant number at risk of closure, subsequently depriving communities across the country of essential facilities that can support their physical, mental and social wellbeing. We’ll continue to work with the Government and look to ensure this is urgently addressed.”

The news comes as a Work Out to Help Out scheme, designed to offer subsidised access to public and private sector health clubs and leisure centres across the country, was rejected by minister Nigel Huddleston.




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