On the 15th of March 2023, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed a £63m fund that will support leisure centres with pools. This fund will be managed by Sport England, and the main aim is to help leisure facilities become more energy efficient as a result of the rising energy costs.
The £63m fund will be split in two ways. £40m will be put in place for investment into decarbonisation and long-term energy efficiency. The remaining £23m will be used to help financially and to make these essential local hubs more energy efficient.
Last year, the energy crisis resulted in the closure of 29 swimming pools, leisure centres and gyms, according to UK Active. However, this new grant for leisure centres with pools should be greatly beneficial and be a big help with covering the ever-increasing energy bills needed to heat pools.
Sport England will grant local authorities to apply for this funding. The finance will be used for the leisure centres with pools that are facing immediate cost pressures, such as operational costs, maintenance costs and energy bills. The pools that are eligible for support include council-run pools, pools run on behalf of councils by private companies and by charities.
Sport England conducted an Active Lives survey and found that those who exercise regularly “are happier and more satisfied with their lives – and are less likely to experience anxiety”. People who are more active are also less likely to gain additional health problems, reducing the number of people who seek treatment from the NHS, resulting in less strain on the NHS budget.
Subsequently, leisure centres are a great contributor to the general public’s mental and physical health. These sporting facilities are also important for local communities, as they create new areas for groups and teams to come together. Therefore, keeping these facilities open is vital as they are fundamental to the public’s wellbeing.
Energy efficient solutions such as LED lighting and Solar PV can massively help to reduce energy costs and carbon footprint and work towards net zero.