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Swim England welcomes new Government grants to support leisure sector

Swim England has welcomed additional financial support from the Government to help the leisure sector through the third national lockdown – but has warned that more might be needed to secure the long-term future of facilities.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed that one-off top up grants are being made available for closed retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

They will be worth up to £9,000 per property, dependent on the rateable values.

The cash is provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions, which were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday 4 January.

Under the new national lockdown, all indoor and outdoor swimming pools have been forced to close until at least mid-February when the emergency measures will be reviewed.

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said when the new lockdown was announced that it was a ‘hammer blow’ to operators who would need ‘necessary financial support to help them though the challenging times’.

Jane added: “It’s pleasing to see the Government react so quickly and offer the leisure sector these grants which will certainly be a help following the latest lockdown announcement.

“However, there is a very real possibility this will not be adequate enough to support the long-term future of our facilities which have been hit so hard by this pandemic.

Costly process

“Continued lockdowns leave operators with a tricky decision of whether to close the pool down completely or leave it running for the duration. Either way, it’s a costly process at a time when there is no money coming in.

“The Government must ensure there is enough in the pot to secure the long-term future of pools for when it is deemed safe for them to reopen.”

Mr Sunak said: “The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge – and whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the Spring.

“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”