Sports could be at risk without extra Government support as venues - including education and facilities and leisure centres - struggle with challenging costs as energy plans set to change in a few weeks.
In the letter the group asks the Prime Minister to class swimming pools as energy intensive, so they can get access to a higher level of discount on prices.
It states: "The 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."
The Energy Bill Relief Scheme currently provides a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic consumers. This includes public sector organisations, voluntary sector organisations like charities, and businesses.
Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett said:
“Affordable access to basketball courts and other sports facilities has been a huge challenge through the COVID-affected period and continues to be so during the energy crisis.
"The basketball community includes a large proportion of players and clubs from sectors of the population already disproportionately disadvantaged. We implore the Prime Minister to provide vital support to sports facilities and continue to give critical energy relief on a sector that is suffering to allow as many people as possible to vital access venues and sport.”
The letter to the Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing with an urgent plea for you to think again, and provide the necessary support to the sport, recreation, and physical activity sector during the ongoing energy crisis.
The failure to do so will lead to an escalation of service reductions and closures at swimming pools, gyms, leisure centres, community facilities and clubs across the UK, impacting people of all ages and backgrounds.
Sport, recreation, and physical activity is woven into the fabric of our communities, positively impacting the lives of millions of people across the nation.
It creates positive experiences, memories, and habits we cherish across our whole lives, and often provides us with sanctuary and resilience in our most challenging of times, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Millions enjoyed and have been inspired by the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph and the recent Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic Games, which have given us a timely boost in terms of national pride.
If we are to continue our successful record in medal winning, then we need to grow the athletes of the future. But our facilities provide much more than just that.
Well maintained, accessible and affordable sporting facilities, parks, playing fields, gyms, pools, and leisure centres contribute to a pride in place, and are the front line of improving our physical, mental, and social wellbeing, which is crucial given the significant pressures facing the NHS and social care.
Furthermore, we know many local schools, sports clubs, and voluntary and community organisations enrich our social fabric by providing a diversity of sports and recreation for many, irrespective of age, ability, or background.
This strengthens community and supports social cohesion in an increasingly digital world where many feel disconnected and lonely.
However, the 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.
Despite a positive local government settlement, the district and unitary councils responsible for leisure services have little flexibility in their finances to provide the support that is needed by the sector, given rising pressures across statutory services.
While the existing relief was welcomed, the end of support in April represents a cliff-edge for these vital but energy-intensive services.
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.
Equally, the loss of accessible sport and leisure facilities will fuel rising obesity rates which the Government has vowed to address. The
loss of swimming lessons and rising obesity rates each pose a serious threat to life.
The closure of leisure facilities will also result in the loss of thousands of skilled, professional jobs, and damage to local economies through the impact on suppliers and related businesses. We are united in our call that the Government works with the sector 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 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.
You have the opportunity to be the first Prime Minister to leverage the role of physical activity for the national good and drive improvements in our national health, reduce the burden on the NHS, and boost economic growth through a happier, healthier workforce.
However, the current approach will inevitably result in the managed decline of parts of the grassroots sport, recreation, and physical activity infrastructure in this country, with incredibly damaging consequences for our national health and prosperity.
We implore you to act with urgency to address this.
Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity
Community Leisure UK
Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association
District Councils’ Network
Local Government Association
Sport and Recreation Alliance
Sport for Development Coalition
Swimming Teachers’ Association
Youth Sport Trust
1Life Management Solutions
Alliance Leisure Services
Anytime Clubs UK
Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
Association of British Climbing Walls
Barnsley Premier Leisure
Baseball Softball UK
British American Football Association
British Association of Sport Rehabilitators and Trainers
British Ice Skating
British Mountaineering Council
British Paralympic Association
British Swimming Pool Federation
British Water Ski & Wakeboard
British Wheelchair Basketball
David Lloyd Leisure
Durham County Council
Edstart Sports Coaching
England and Wales Cricket Board
English Indoor Bowling Association
Everybody Health & Leisure
Fitness First Clubs
Great Britain Diving Federation
Great Britain Outrigger
Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby
Hurlingham Polo Association
International Longevity Centre UK
Junior Adventure Group
Karate Union of Great Britain
Laban Guild International
Leeds City Council – Sport
Mosaic Spa & Health Clubs
Move it or Lose it
North Lanarkshire Council
UK Outdoor Industry Association
Quartz Sequoia Events
Richmond Group of Charities
Royal Life Saving Society UK
Royal Yachting Association
Rugby Football League
Rugby Football Union
Scottish Leisure Network Group
SLM Community Leisure Charity Trust
SLM Health and Fitness
Sport for Confidence
Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association
Table Tennis England
The Food Addiction Coach
The Golf Foundation
The Gym Group
Thomas Pocklington Trust
Watford FC Community Trust
Welsh Sports Association
Women In Sport
Women’s Sport Collective
Rebecca Adlington OBE
Claire Cashmore MBE
Ed Clancy OBE
James Cracknell OBE
Sharron Davies MBE
Duncan Goodhew MBE
Anna Hopkin MBE
Adrian Moorhouse MBE
Matty Lee MBE
Steve Parry MBE
Scarlett Mew Jensen
Jonnie Peacock MBE
Karen Pickering MBE
Ellie Robinson MBE
Will Sach MBE
Andrea Spendolini Sirieix
Alice Tai MBE
Daley Thompson CBE
Dr Mike Tipton MBE
David Weir CBE
Professor Greg Whyte OBE