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New Sport England report proves why investment in facilities is urgently needed

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson says a new report which proves how physical activity is worth billions of pounds to the country’s economy should spur the Government to invest in struggling leisure facilities.

The dossier, published by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University for Sport England, reveals that for every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity, £3.91 is generated for the English economy and society.

The Social and Economic Value of Sport and Physical Activity in England report shows that community sport and physical activity brings an annual contribution of £85.5 billion to the country (in 2018 prices) through social and economic benefits.

Its social value – including physical and mental health, wellbeing, individual and community development – is worth more than £72 billion.

This is due to a healthier population, consumer expenditure, greater work productivity, improved education attainment, reduced crime and stronger communities.

Exercise more important than ever before

More than £13 billion is also raised in economic value through the sale of sports-related goods and services.

The findings tie in with Swim England research published last November which showed that aquatic activity alone saves the NHS and social care system more than £357 million a year.

However, many swimming pools still remain shut following the easing of the coronavirus lockdown measures and Jane said this new report proves how vital it was to get them open as soon as possible.

Swim England insight shows that while 767 of the 1,002 public accessible pools have reopened in some form, or have published an imminent reopening date, 223 remain indefinitely closed.

Jane said: “In the current climate we find ourselves in, regular exercise and a healthier lifestyle is more important than ever before.

“However, many people who can only exercise in water for a variety of reasons are still being denied the chance to get active as pools across the country remain closed.

Vital community hubs

“If anymore evidence was needed to show how urgent it was to help the leisure facilities that are struggling financially, this report is surely it.

“This latest research backs up the findings in our own Value of Swimming report which shows how any initial investment made into leisure facilities is easily saved in the NHS and social care system.

“We’re continuing to fight through the #SaveLeisure campaign for the necessary funding that facilities need to be able to open their doors and be the vital community hubs they have always been once again.”

Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England chief executive, said: “Everyone has a responsibility to keep our nation active.

“This new research provides evidence that can help local authorities, businesses and the voluntary sector to understand the value of promoting activity, especially as it will play an important part in helping the national to recover from the challenges 2020 has brought.”

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