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New £4 billion investment in community facilities a ‘promising sign’ for pools

A £4 billion Government investment in the facilities most wanted by people is a ‘promising sign’ for swimming pools, according to Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the Levelling Up Fund and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in his Comprehensive Spending Review statement.

He said that areas ‘will be able to bid for funds to build the facilities most wanted by local people’ but all projects must have ‘real impact, be deliverable before the next election in 2024 and must command local support’.

The Government will publish a prospectus for the fund, which will be managed jointly between the Treasury, the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and launch the first round of bids in the New Year.

Jane said that pools and leisure facilities were ‘highly-valued community hubs’ and should be at the forefront of consideration for funding.

Research from Swim England has shown that a single 25m pool can generate £7.2 million social value in community savings and save the NHS and social care system more than £1.2 million.

Figures from Sport England have also shown that for every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity, a return of £4 is delivered.

Jane said: “The scale of the challenge Covid-19 is placing on the Government is daunting and the Chancellor has some unenviable choices ahead.

“Previous initiatives like the furlough scheme and the recent £100 million for leisure centres will help support pools and businesses across the aquatics sector but many challenges remain.

Improve the nation’s health

“Swimming pools are much-loved and highly-valued hubs enjoyed by millions across the country each month. They help people to be healthier and happier, reducing health inequalities and bringing huge benefits to their local communities.

“They should therefore be at the forefront of consideration for funding through the Levelling Up Fund.

“Not only is investing in aquatic facilities the right thing to do from a health point of view, the economic benefits mean it is an efficient use of public money which is important considering the economic situation facing the country.

“Whilst the Levelling Up Fund and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund are promising signs for facilities and the clubs that compete in all our disciplines, we still need to see a dedicated support package for our pools and sports and will be keeping up the fight through the #SaveOurSports campaign.

“Investing in swimming will help local economies, support the NHS and improve the nation’s physical and mental health in every corner of the country.

“We will continue to work constructively with the Government both nationally and locally to drive investment into our sports.”