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Swim England calls on the Government to invest £500 million in ‘treasured’ facilities

Swim England has called on the Government to invest half-a-billion pounds in ‘treasured’ facilities to help improve the long-term physical health of the nation.

The recognised national governing body has also reiterated its plea to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak for an emergency Sports Recovery Fund to help #SaveLeisure as the sector struggles due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

In its submission to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Swim England has requested a £500 million pot of funding to help make sure there are enough pools across the country in the future.

Swim England has previously stated it was clear the number of pools in the country was in decline and has forecast a 40 per cent reduction in available facilities before 2030 due to age and rising operational costs – a figure that will only be further exacerbated by the pandemic.

External organisations are invited to make suggestions on what the Government should spend its money on before the Chancellor determines how much cash each department receives.

As part of its proposal to Parliament, Swim England has also asked for an extension to the temporary five per cent reduced rate of VAT to sport and additional support for self-employed individuals working in the sport, recreation and physical activity sector as it returns to full operational capability.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “The Comprehensive Spending Review is an important opportunity for the Government to provide the urgent financial support that the swimming sector needs to survive.

“Without this support, too many treasured local community facilities will be forced to close for good.

“This would be a disaster for the thousands of swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming clubs as well as the millions of people who swim each year to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

“As well as the immediate action required to respond to the pressures caused by Covid-19, the Government must not miss the chance to invest in the facilities we need for the future for all our disciplines.

Proven initiatives

“Our insight team was already forecasting a 40 per cent reduction in the number of swimming pools by the end of this decade even before Covid-19 struck.

“We have made it clear in our submission that the Government needs to act immediately to #SaveLeisure as well as appropriately invest to provide the facilities our sports and communities need for the future.

”That will allow proven initiatives that can improve people’s physical and mental health, for instance our fantastic water wellbeing programme, to be scaled up and we must continue to improve the provision of school swimming and water safety lessons so that every child learns this vital life-saving skill.

“Swimming has the power and ability to help the Government achieve many of its stated aims around reducing inequalities, improving social cohesion and tackling growing problems like obesity.

“However, to do this we need the necessary financial support. The Comprehensive Spending Review is the chance for the Government to commit more than just warm words to the importance of sport and physical activity to the nation’s recovery and long-term future.”

Mr Sunak said: “The Comprehensive Spending Review is our opportunity to deliver on the third phase of our recovery plan, where we will honour the commitments made in the March Budget to rebuild, level up and invest in people and places – spreading opportunities more evenly across the nation.”

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