Learning More About Trusts

Welcome to Community Leisure UK.

Currently 43% of public leisure provision across England and 85% across Scotland, uses the trust model. The word ‘trust’ refers to non-profit-distributing and independent organisations. Trusts have been in existence since the 1990s, with the majority being formed c. 12 years ago. To date, Community Leisure UK’s 112 members deliver over 3,700 services and facilities, employ over 67,000 staff, and received 233m customer visits in 2017.


Trusts tend to be:

  • Companies Limited by Guarantee with charitable status
  • Community Benefit Societies with charitable status
  • Community Interest Companies (CICs), or
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisations / Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation


The model of trusts, according to a survey carried out by Winckworth Sherwood (Trusts for Big Society, 2010)

“…enable individuals and communities to participate”.


The model of the trust focuses on utilising cross-subsidy, in two ways:

  • Cross-subsidy of services – more profit generating leisure activities will subsidise some health, community-based, library activities etc; and
  • Cross-subsidy of individuals – where those that can afford to pay support those who need a subsidy, or those activities that need to be subsidised.


Importantly Winckworth Sherwood (Trusts for Big Society, 2010) note that

“If you’re only doing it [establishing a trust] to save money, you’re lost”


Leisure trusts contribute to and deliver across communities, reducing health inequalities, providing safe havens and spaces, and supporting and developing other local civil society organisations and stakeholders. Increasingly trusts are the only social infrastructure in communities. Winckworth Sherwood (Trusts for Big Society, 2010) highlighted core advantages of the trust model

“…increased community involvement in the decision making process….less bureaucracy and greater speed of decision-making…..ability to react to market forces…increase access to small and other charitable funding streams…..tax and NNDR savings…..single focused body…independence and ability to diversify”.