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Additional Energy Efficiency Funding Made Available for Leisure Centres





Laid out in last week’s budget, additional funding has been made available to support leisure centres with pools as they continue to struggle with rising energy bills. A £63 million fund was announced, which will be managed by Sport England and made available for leisure centres in England to apply to for the next year. In total, around 800 of the 2,000 public leisure centres in England have pools, which have seen a substantial increase in costs.

Of the £63 million of funding assigned in total, £40 million will be made available for investment in decarbonisation and long-term energy efficiency measures, while a further £23 million will be used to support leisure centres with costs. Council-run pools as well as those ran by private companies on behalf of councils or by charities will be eligible for support.

The fund is now set to launch at the end of June, once Sport England has completed the process of appointing a grant administrator. From then, the process is expected to progress as follows:

  • Applications for funding submitted by the end of July
  • Application assessment during August
  • Decisions announced in September
  • Payments to follow on receipt of a signed funding agreement

Sport England has also clarified that applications will only be accepted from local authorities, who will need to coordinate a single submission on behalf of all the publicly accessible swimming pools in their area. For community pools that offer public access but fall outside of a local authority’s asset base, they will need to contact their local authority to confirm their interest in applying to the Support Fund.

The move comes following substantial lobbying from groups including the Local Government Association after leisure centres were initially excluded from a list of energy-intensive industries able to secure additional government support on energy costs. In February, nearly 200 sporting bodies, health organisations and athletes wrote to the prime minister asking for additional support for pools and leisure centres.

While the additional support for energy and trade intensive industries focused on manufacturing and heavy industry, it also included museums, libraries, historical sites, zoos and other visitor attractions. Despite the energy costs associated with public pools and the key role they play as a community resource, leisure centres initially missed out. Figures from UK Active in January showed that 350 leisure facilities in the UK have closed or made changes to their service in the last year, primarily due to increased costs.

Sport England Chief Executive Tim Hollingsworth said: “This is a significant and welcome amount of support from the Government that will offer a lifeline to many public leisure centres across England as well as to help sustain them in the future.

“We know how difficult the present situation is and have been working hard to ensure these providers get the support they need. We’ll now turn our efforts to supporting the process in the weeks ahead to distribute the funding made available today to ensure it goes where it is needed most”.

Solon Mardapittas, Chief Executive Officer at Powerstar, said: “Leisure centres have seen dramatic increases in energy costs, and this funding’s focus on energy efficiency is a positive step towards supporting them both through the acute phases of the energy crisis and to reducing future energy costs and carbon emissions.”

A further announcement that will set capital fund criteria and confirm the application process is expected at the end of June.

Case Study

Cotswold Leisure Centre, owned and operated by Cotswold District Council, saved 8% on their total energy bills after the installation of a Powerstar voltage optimisation unit, as well as reducing their associated carbon emissions by 54 tonnes annually

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