Many Charitable Trusts across England, Wales and Scotland are reaching tipping points where the loss of essential activity and wellbeing programmes, and the closure of facilities, are becoming increasingly likely.
That’s the verdict of a new set of landscape reports by Community Leisure UK. All three reports for England, Wales and Scotland are now available.
Phil Rumbelow, Chair of Community Leisure UK, said: “With inflation not expected to reduce to normal levels until 2024-25, the risks of some public leisure and culture services ceasing to exist is very real. This would have a significant impact on communities, disproportionately impacting lower income households and those living in poverty, with reductions to services having already started.
“We are urging the Government to support emergency funding for those in crisis and calling on Local Authorities to recognise the impact of losing these vital services and to work in partnership with operators to maximise flexibility within contracts to support in these extraordinary circumstances.”
Like many businesses, the Charitable Trust sector has been hit by a perfect storm over the last few months of stagnating visitor numbers post-Covid, increased energy costs, price increases to raw materials and National Insurance Increases.
One of Community Leisure UK’s members in England reported that: “We are now being quoted 592% increase for gas, it was 481% a couple of weeks ago, and Electricity has moved from 238% to 292%, this means based on current costs for our three sites of £106K annually for Gas & Electric, it’s now coming out at £529K an increase of £423K- we are seeking urgent discussions with our partners as this level of the cost will bankrupt us.”
The report also highlights the many mitigating measures Charitable Trusts have already taken to prevent closures and services from being affected. These include increased prices, reducing the use of air conditioning units, charging equipment in non-peak electricity hours and reducing pool temperatures.
Kirsty Cumming, CEO of Community Leisure UK, said: “If there is no support, particularly into autumn with the projected price increases for energy, it is inevitable that public leisure and culture services will be significantly cut or, as is increasingly more likely, that facilities will be closed.
“The closure of buildings and the cessation of services will have a significantly adverse impact on population health and wellbeing, increasing social isolation and worsening health inequalities.
“Our members have already put in mitigation measures but in some cases it won’t be enough.These challenges are part of a wider problem and impact across many different areas.
“We need collaborative working across health, education and transport at both a local and national level because the impact of losing services will be different in different areas of the country.”
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