Swim England

A nation swimming

New report warning of pool closures and job losses ‘concerning but not surprising’

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson says a new report warning that one in five swimming pools will permanently close due to the coronavirus pandemic is ‘massively concerning but not surprising’.

The findings released by Community Leisure UK today has led to the recognised national governing body for aquatics reiterating its plea for urgent funding to be invested in leisure facilities so more can reopen following lockdown.

In the Community Leisure UK Covid-19 Impact Report, it states the public leisure and culture landscape is in a ‘fragile position’ and there is a ‘high risk’ of venues and facilities shutting down for good.

It fears 18 per cent of swimming pools owned by its members will be lost.

The report also highlights that up to 7,000 leisure sector jobs are at risk and a further 6,000 roles confirmed for redundancy.

Swim England has partnered with CLUK on the #SaveLeisure campaign which is fighting for ring-fenced funding from the Government to help those facilities which are struggling financially.

Fragile position

Research carried out by Swim England last week revealed that almost a quarter of public pools still remained closed, many without a confirmed reopening date.

The stark new report from CLUK said: “The public leisure and culture landscape will be in a fragile position for a significant period of time, with a lengthy recovery period.

“There is a high risk of venues and facilities closing permanently as a result of rationalisation and financial pressures. There are currently 342 facilities at risk of permanent closure, including 35 libraries, 85 leisure centres and 24 swimming pools.

“This would result in a loss of 18 per cent of swimming pools run by our members, which would impact on communities, clubs and athletes.”

Jane said a number of pools had started to reopen but millions of people were still facing the prospect of not being able to enjoy the many physical and mental health benefits exercising in the water can bring – and many club swimmers, divers and water polo players were still on dry land.

She added: “This report is incredibly concerning but sadly not surprising.

“We’re also seeing a similar story from pools with different operating structures. Alongside CLUK, we have been very vocal about the need for Government funding to help #SaveLeisure and get more pools open and prevent the mothballing of vital local facilities that are enjoyed by so many and produce so many benefits for their local communities.

Won’t stop the fight

“As well as pools being the home to thousands of swimming, artistic swimming, diving and water polo clubs, we know that being active in the water helps people’s physical and mental health, improves community cohesion and reduces pressure on the NHS.

“For each day that pools remain shut, almost one million pounds of benefit to the NHS and social care system is lost. The #SaveLeisure investment would more than pay for itself incredibly quickly.”

Jane added that the clubs across all aquatic disciplines are at risk of being permanently lost.

“Every pool that remains shut or that is forced to close makes it harder and harder for our network of clubs across all our disciplines to survive,” Jane said.

“If facilities remain closed, there will also be many swim schools, swimming teachers, lifeguards and facility staff worrying about when, or even if, they will have a job to go back to.

“We’re working day and night to support our workforce and the clubs that have been made temporarily homeless by pool closures and we won’t stop the fight for the #SaveLeisure funding our sector needs to protect as many pools as we can.”