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Swim England ‘disappointed’ pools not included in grant support package

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has written to the Government expressing her disappointment that pools and leisure centres have not been included in the latest coronavirus grant support package.

The Government has announced £1 billion worth of support for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors which are most impacted by the Omicron variant.

However, leisure centres, swimming pools and swim schools are not eligible to apply for the funding – despite operators reporting that footfall is significantly down in recent weeks compared to previous years

Jane has also stressed to Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston that ‘safe and secure’ pools – which help save the NHS and social care system more than £357 million a year – are vital to the ‘health, happiness and wellbeing of the nation which will be more important than ever in 2022’.

She said: “The fact pools and leisure centres are not included in this latest support package is incredibly concerning.

“We’ll be pressing the Government to reverse this decision at the earliest opportunity.

Crucial month

“As well as being well-managed, controlled environments with incredibly low transmission rates, pools and leisure centres are absolutely vital to the health and wellbeing of the nation. 

“However, many are on their knees already as a result of the impact of Covid.

“As we head into January, which is an especially crucial month for these facilities, it’s vital they can access the financial support they need to remain open, serving their communities and reducing the pressures on the NHS.

“Any future Covid restrictions will put more pressure an already looming facilities shortage across the country and take away opportunities for people to be happier, healthier and more active – as well as widening existing health inequalities.

“We were already forecasting the loss of almost 40 per cent of our pools by the end of the decade. 

“As it stands, this decision by the Government will only speed up that process.”