Community Leisure UK response to the extra £1.6bn to Councils (announcement from April 18)

Published on: April 20th 2020

We welcome the Government’s announcement of April 18 for a further £1.6 billion financial support to English Councils, £155 million to Scotland and £95 million to Wales. Councils across the United Kingdom are valued, vital partners of leisure and culture trusts.

The announcement contributes to the Government’s earlier commitment to “do whatever is necessary” to support Councils financially through this crisis, and with it, they have shown that it is necessary and within reach to support Councils during and beyond this pandemic. The current crisis will unfortunately not stop after the peak of the pandemic. It will take a phased approach to ease and finally lift current measures.

This additional funding will support Councils in responding to the pandemic locally and allows them to continue to deliver and support vital services, such as adult social care. Leisure and culture trusts are working closely with their Council partners during this pandemic, donating PPE equipment and stock from vending machines, delivering outreach programmes for people with physical and mental disabilities and vulnerable children and adults, transforming leisure centres into food distribution centres and field hospitals, and reaching out to vulnerable people through their (continued, online) local library services.

While managing the present and immediate situations, we must think about how Councils can best be financially supported and enabled in their recovery to truly get through this crisis. Then, how, in turn, Councils will proactively protect and support vital community infrastructure such as local leisure centres, parks, theatres, libraries and others.

Councils are the fourth emergency service, and were already set to spend the additional £1.6 billion two times over to fund vital services, so a funding gap will remain. We welcome this announcement but know that more is needed to fully support Councils, their services and public service partners, to be as effective, community focussed and resilient as possible.