Member Frustration over Energy Support

Published on: January 11th 2023

Ivan Horsfall Turner, CEO of Freedom leisure, one of the leading charitable and not-for-profit leisure trusts in the UK that manages over 100 leisure and cultural venues including over 60 swimming pools on behalf of local authority client partners, has been left frustrated and very disappointed following the Treasury announcement on Monday 9 January 2023.

James Cartlidge, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury laid out the Government’s support plans for businesses from 1 April on energy bills and also presented a list of industry sectors that were going to receive extra financial support due to their intensive energy use and other trade factors.

This universal scheme is much less generous than previous support provided and swimming pools and leisure centres have been excluded from extra support with the government not listing swimming pools or leisure centres as one of the “energy and trade intensive industries” which will receive additional government support.

“I am extremely disappointed and frustrated as to why public sector leisure has been omitted from the list. Public sector leisure is one of the most exposed sectors because we are a very intensive user of utilities with energy costs a very large proportion of our overall costs particularly in centres with swimming pools. We have recently seen our annual energy bill move from £8m to £20m even with the temporary cap.”

Ivan Horsfall Turner

CEO – Freedom Leisure

Ivan continued; 

“Following yesterday’s announcement of a “discount scheme”, those figures are clearly going to increase even further and as a not for profit organisation that reinvests its surpluses back into the local community facilities we run, we simply do not have the reserves to cope with these unprecedented costs.”

“I have personally written to all local MPs within the constituencies we operate and I call upon the Chancellor and the Government to urgently provide clarity about the criteria used to decide which industries are classed as being “energy intensive”, it seems incredibly hard to understand how a public library or a museum is more energy intensive than a public swimming pool.”

“If this situation remains as is, there is a real risk of more not-for-profit trusts, such as ourselves, taking difficult decisions to close more facilities and services which will have a long-term, detrimental effect on the health & wellbeing of the nation as well as increasing the pressure on our already overstretched NHS.”