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17 Jan 2023 | 2:02

The Sport for Development Coalition has joined with national sector partners to deliver an “urgent plea” for Government “not to take for granted the role and importance of sport, recreation, and physical activity” in the UK. 

It follows the decision not to identify bespoke support for the sector as part of the Energy Bills Discount Scheme. The Coalition has teamed up with Active Partnerships, CIMSPA, Local Government Association (LGA), Sport & Recreation Alliance, Swim England and Youth Sport Trust to raise concerns about the impact of the decision on community facilities and services – especially swimming provision – across the UK.

A joint statement from the group of partners read: “As lead organisations from the sector and local government, we are acutely aware of the significant, and in some cases, unreconcilable pressure facilities are facing as a result of both the pandemic and now the energy crisis.” 


The group claim that unless the decision is changed “communities will see the loss of essential local services, including swimming lessons for children, multi-sport offerings, mental health services, bespoke programmes for older citizens, ethnically diverse communities, and disabled people, and long-term health programmes including cancer rehabilitation, musculoskeletal support, and type 2 diabetes. This will impact millions of people, of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.  

“As more facilities close, this will create even more challenges for the NHS, which is already under unimaginable pressure, and impact economic productivity by hampering efforts to get people healthy for work.” 

The group of partners is urging Government to act swiftly with three key measures:  

  1. Reclassify swimming pools as energy intensive as part of Energy Bills Discount Scheme so they have access to the higher level of discount on energy prices.  
  2. Set out what tangible support it will provide to the wider sector – including gyms, leisure centres and sports facilities – to help navigate the energy crisis across 2023 so that service restrictions and facility closures can be minimised.   
  3. Set out a ‘plan for the growth’ for the sector by aligning the proposed new Sports Strategy with the Spring Budget to unlock the potential of the sector to support the economic, health, and social wellbeing of the nation.  

The group of partners says a failure to do this could lead to facility closures on a national level across 2023, with repercussions for national health, the NHS, and the economy.   

The statement concluded: “The evidence we have provided to the Government is unequivocal, so we implore it to work with the sector and local government to find urgent solutions to this grave situation.” 

Pic credit: Activity Alliance / Swim England