Leisure up: £63 million to keep leisure centres with pools afloat

Published on: March 14th 2023
  • £63 million of new government cash to support public leisure centres with swimming pools.
  • £40 million of new fund to help pools become more energy efficient for the long term.
  • Over £20 million to help with rising costs caused by Putin’s illegal invasion.
  • Sport England will manage the process – Find out more

The Chancellor will announce £63 million of new money will be made available to leisure centres with pools in a one-year-fund, as part of this year’s Spring Budget (15/03/2023). 

There are more than 2,000 public leisure centres in England, over 800 of which have pools. They’re important community hubs where children learn to swim, and everyone from babies to grandparents can keep fit and active. The government is stepping-up to safeguard the long term future of leisure centres with pools after concerns some may need to close or reduce opening hours due to rising costs.

Leisure centres with swimming pools, many of which were built in the last century, are responsible for up to 40% of local authority carbon footprints. This is due to the need for pools to be heated to safe temperatures. Following Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, public pools have also faced additional short term cost pressures.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt said:

“Soaring bills are hitting us all hard, and community pools have been thrown in the deep end. I know they are loved by millions of people. This vital lifeline will keep them afloat.”

The Chancellor is making money available to help with costs to make these essential local hubs more energy efficient. £40 million of the fund will be made available for investment in decarbonisation and long term energy efficiency.

Over £20 million is also being made available in grants to leisure centres with pools facing immediate cost pressures including operational and maintenance costs, and energy bills.

Applications for funding will need to be made by local authorities, where Sport England will manage the process. Funding will be awarded following a competitive bidding process.

Council-run pools, and pools run on behalf of councils by private companies and charities are also eligible for support.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: 

“It is essential that children have the opportunity to learn water safety skills and adults of all ages can benefit from maintaining an active lifestyle too.

“During the pandemic we secured the survival and reopening of more than 1100 swimming pools from a bespoke £100 million National Leisure Recovery Fund. This formed part of our unprecedented support for sports and leisure services worth £1 billion. More recently pools and leisure centres have also benefited from our £18 billion package to help organisations navigate rising energy prices.

“We are now stepping in to safeguard our nation’s public swimming pools, providing them with support for a sustainable future that will help ensure that generations to come can take the plunge.”