Swim England

A nation swimming

Spending review cautiously welcomed by Swim England but questions remain

The recent Budget and Spending Review announcement made by the Chancellor has been cautiously welcomed by Swim England but ‘important questions remain’.

A key announcement was a new 50 per cent business rates discount for business in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for one year.

This is a positive step that will help many swimming pool operators still battling the effects of the pandemic.

The announcement of a real terms increase in funding for every government department is also good news – particularly the additional funding for sport, education, health and social care and importantly, for local government who are the largest investors into leisure facilities.

Swim England also commends the Government for explicitly recognising the contribution the sport and physical activity sector can contribute to the Government’s levelling up agenda.

Specific levelling up funds will also play a positive role in delivering investment into swimming facilities across the country and examples of support for pools through the Levelling Up Fund are already being seen.

The time to act is now

Responding to the announcement, Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said: “There is much to welcome in the Chancellor’s statement however, important questions remain.

“The announcement does not go far enough to address the particular challenges and substantial pressures around the country’s ageing leisure facilities, where the funding demands of local communities will exceed what has been made available so far to both local authorities and operators.

“Our recent Decade of Decline report forecasts a loss of almost 2,000 pools by 2030, so the time to act is now. We can’t afford to wait if we are to avert a looming shortage of pools.

“The Government is rightly making more money available for the NHS – and investing in the swimming pools which are at the forefront of efforts to help people maintain good physical and mental health will further help our pressured NHS and social care system.

“In the run up to COP 26 in Glasgow, investment in new pools will also help the Government meet its ambitious net zero environmental targets.

“With pools currently accounting for as much as 40 per cent of a local authorities direct carbon emissions, with government investment there is scope to make real progress here.

“We will continue to make the case for investment into the pools we need for the future on behalf of all our sports, clubs, swim schools and the millions of people who enjoy swimming each year.”