More Financial Support Needed

Published on: December 22nd 2021

Community Leisure UK has expressed utter disappointment that public leisure providers have been excluded from the Government’s Covid support scheme for hospitality and leisure and warned of a potentially bleak start to 2022 for the sector unless more financial support is given.


The company,  which represents charitable leisure and culture trusts across England, Scotland and Wales, also warned that further Covid restrictions in the new year would be a “hammer blow” for the Charitable Trust sector which is “already on its knees”.


CEO of Community Leisure UK, Kirsty Cumming, said: “We are utterly disappointed that our sector has not been included for this financial support. The UK Government Business Grants needs to be amended to include public leisure providers.


“There remains a high level of anxiety and uncertainty, with significant threats for the future viability of these services.


“At present, there are financial challenges across public leisure and culture as a result of new restrictions, with public messaging cautioning against socialisation ahead of Christmas, directly impacting on trading. 


“The pantomime season has already been significantly hit in terms of cancellations from audiences and staff sicknesses following the spread of Omicron and new restrictions. Any further restrictions, especially in the form of social distancing or limiting capacity, will render pantomime unviable and disproportionately impact on businesses’ annual balance sheets due to the importance of the festive season. 


“For leisure and sport, January to March is undoubtedly the key trading period for income and customer engagement. This period was lost in 2020 through lockdown, and another period of restrictions in the first quarter of 2022 will be a hammer blow for a sector already on its knees.” 


In letters to governments in England, Scotland and Wales, Community Leisure UK outlined the many challenges faced by the sector including an employment crisis, burnout by employees, staffing challenges caused by the spread of Omicron, the impact of poor messaging on customer confidence as well as the financial challenges the sector faces.


Ms Cumming added: “Considering the impact that the pandemic has already had on public leisure and culture operators, and in anticipation of further restrictions, without further financial support, not all public leisure and culture operators will be able to recover. Those who make it through the next few weeks will see another 12-24 months added to their recovery period, on top of their existing recovery modeling.”


Community Leisure UK has urgently requested the following from governments.



  • Amend the UK Government Business Grants to include public leisure providers
  • Clarify and confirm potential restrictions being considered for England to enable businesses to prepare accordingly
  • Clarify public messaging regarding social interactions, to avoid confusion and to enable consistent messaging across businesses
  • Clarify eligibility for Local Authority Business Grants following the announcement by the Chancellor on 21st December, specifically the definition of ‘leisure’
  • Bring back the furlough scheme if a circuit breaker or lockdown is introduced.



  • Provide ring-fenced funding to local authorities to enable them to support their leisure and culture partners
  • Urgently clarify how the £375 million business support will be allocated and distributed.
  • Ensure that any support packages offered do not discriminate based on delivery model, as has been the case with funding packages excluding arms length external organisations
  • Make the restrictions on socialisation a legal mandate, rather than a strong recommendation, and back this up with financial support in the form of grants to affected businesses.


  • Clarify whether the Welsh Budget extends the Hardship Fund for local government into the new financial year as part of the 9.4% increase in local government funding.
  • Allow leisure centres, gyms and pools to be included in the new grant funding for affected businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors, and urge the UK Government to allow the same flexibility in other home nations.
  • Make the restrictions on socialisation a legal mandate, rather than a strong recommendation, and extend financial support in the form of grants to affected businesses, clarifying how the £60 million set aside for affected businesses will be distributed and confirming the new funding for hospitality and leisure announced by the Chancellor.