Following our ongoing campaign for additional sector support, the Alliance was extremely pleased by the announcement two days ago – confirmed in yesterday’s Budget – of £63 million for public leisure centres with swimming pools to help them through the current energy crisis.
Of the total, £23 million will go towards helping leisure centres tackle current pressures and a further £40 million will be available for decarbonisation and long-term energy efficiency. The fund will be managed by Sport England and local authorities will be invited to apply for funding – see here for more information.
Today’s Budget contained a number of other important announcements in a range of areas, including measures to support a healthier workforce, levelling up, economic growth and simplification of the tax system – the Alliance will review these in detail in the coming weeks. Highlights include:
- A new plan for UK growth – an Industrial and Productivity Strategy to grow the UK Economy.
- Employability – new support for those with long-term conditions and disabled people to get back into the world of work; and a commitment to support older people stay in work.
- Workforce health - integration of health and employment, including a plan to give more resources to mental health and scale up musculoskeletal (MSK) support by turning community hubs and leisure centres into MSK hubs.
- Charities and community – investment of an additional £100m to tackle cost of living pressures faced by charities and community organisations.
- Levelling up – investment of £400m for new levelling up partnerships, helping to regenerate 20 places across England; and a further £200m for regeneration projects.
- Devolution – funding towards 12 investment zones across the home nations, combined authorities, and mayoral areas.
- Tax – introduction of tax breaks for eligible capital investment alongside a commitment to simplify the tax system for small businesses and further consultation on use of the tax system to support occupational health.
Lisa Wainwright MBE, CEO of the Alliance said: “Yesterday’s Budget confirms much-needed support for our sector, and we very much welcome the recognition of the importance of sport, recreation and physical activity and the benefits it brings to our communities being translated into tangible support for public leisure, in particular.”
“We are pleased that the sector's collective voice is being heard, particularly after last week’s announcement of a government support package for PE and school sport, including £600 million investment across the next two years, which followed consistent and longstanding calls from the sector.”
“Our sector has the power to support the economic, health, educational and social wellbeing of the nation but its potential must be maximised. For example, we know that when it comes to workforce and employment, there is a huge correlation between productivity and the activity levels of employees (see reports).
“And in terms of public health, the sector delivers over £9bn of savings per annum through prevention of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia. However, over a quarter of adults are inactive, only half of children and young people meet the minimum physical activity requirements, and the UK has one of the highest rates of physical inactivity in the G7, costing £7.4bn annually.”
“We therefore look forward to working with Government and key stakeholders over the coming months to continue to support the wider sector through the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, while ensuring the forthcoming new sport strategy and revised School Sport and Activity Action Plan reflect the central role sport, recreation and physical activity can play in supporting key Government priorities.”
The Alliance will review and publish more detail on the Budget over the coming weeks, identifying key opportunities for the sector to support the economic, health, educational and social wellbeing of the nation.