Table Tennis England is among a coalition of more than 200 organisations and individuals from the worlds of sport, health, recreation and leisure to have signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister with an urgent plea for greater support for grassroots facilities and clubs amid the ongoing energy crisis.
With energy costs relief for the UK’s swimming pools, leisure centres, sport centres, community facilities and gyms ending on March 31, thousands of facilities and clubs are at risk of permanent closure or reduced services, as public and private sector organisations of all sizes face unprecedented financial challenges with bills remaining up to 200% higher than normal.
The signatories of the letter range from sport national governing bodies and major health bodies to the nation’s biggest fitness and leisure groups. Athletes such as Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington and celebrities including Davina McCall have also added their support.
The letter warns that “failure to identify bespoke support for the sector (and schools operating sports facilities) as part of the Energy Bills Discount Scheme will be the final straw for many facilities and services – especially swimming pools.
“Without national intervention, communities will see the loss of essential local services, including swimming lessons for children which are vital for water safety; multi-sport offerings; mental health services; bespoke programmes for older citizens, ethnically diverse communities, women and girls, and disabled people; and long-term health programmes including cancer rehabilitation and support for those with musculoskeletal conditions and type 2 diabetes.”
Within the letter, the coalition calls for the Government to:
- Reclassify swimming pools as energy intensive as part of the Energy Bills Discount Scheme so they have access to the higher level of discount on energy prices.
- Set out what tangible support it will provide to the wider sector – including gyms, leisure centres, sports facilities, and clubs – to help navigate the energy crisis across 2023 so that service restrictions and facility closures can be minimised.
- 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, educational and social wellbeing of the nation.
The letter was co-ordinated a group of bodies, including: Active Partnerships, the Association for Public Service Excellence, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, the Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association, Community Leisure UK, District Councils’ Network, the Local Government Association, Sported, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Sport for Development Coalition, Swim England, the Swimming Teachers’ Association, the Youth Sport Trust, and ukactive.