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Energy Bill Relief Scheme welcomed but pools still require long-term help

Swim England has welcomed a Government scheme to help pools cope with rising utility bills – but has warned long-term help will still be needed for energy-dependent facilities.

The new Energy Bill Relief Scheme will provide discounts on wholesale gas and electricity prices for non-domestic customers.

It will apply to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022 as well as to deemed, variable and flexible tariffs.

Initially running for a six-month period, it will apply to energy usage from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023.

The scheme will be reviewed after three months to inform decisions on future support from March onwards.

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said the measures were urgently needed.

However, Jane added: “While we welcome this announcement to offer support to businesses, local authorities and pool operators, they will undoubtedly need further support beyond the six-month period given the scale of the problem facing the sector.

“It’s vitally important that the Government recognises that this will still be the case when they carry out the three-month review.

“Pools are a necessity for so many people as it may be the only place they can be physically active – and they help save the NHS and social care system hundreds of millions of pounds every year.

“However, pools are more susceptible than the vast majority of businesses to rising gas and electricity prices due to their high dependence on energy to constantly keep the water heated.

“We will keep putting the pressure on the Government to remind them of this fact and urge them to do more long-term to ensure pools can afford to remain open for the communities they serve.”