A leisure centre operator has welcomed government support for swimming pools announced in today’s budget.

Struggling swimming pools in England have been given a £63 million lifeline to meet rising energy costs and become more efficient.

Some £40 million will help pools tackle emissions, while around £20 million will help pools tackle rising utility bills.

The fund, which will be managed by Sport England, will allow local councils to apply for funding for leisure centres with pools that face immediate cost pressures including operational and maintenance costs and energy bills.

Freedom Leisure, which operates Brighton and Hove’s leisure centres, welcomed the measure, after having its annual energy bill jump from £8 million to around £20 million.


Ivan Horsfall Turner, CEO of Freedom Leisure, said: “We very much welcome the additional funding which will support our efforts to reduce our carbon emissions and help with our eye-watering energy bills but this is very much the first step.

“We will continue to work with our industry and local authority partners to put swimming pools on a more sustainable and long-term footing.

“We have campaigned hard recently with other industry bodies for this extra funding and are pleased that the government has finally taken notice and recognised the challenging situation felt by the sector and the value of leisure centres and swimming pools to local communities.”

The Argus:

In his address to Parliament announcing the government’s Budget measures, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that the economy would avoid recession, although growth remains sluggish.

He said: “In the face of enormous challenges, I report today on a British economy which is proving the doubters wrong.”

As part of a package aimed at helping with the cost of living, the Chancellor said the energy price guarantee, which caps average household bills at £2,500, will be extended at its current level from April to June.

It had been due to rise to £3,000 in April and the cost of scrapping the planned 20 per cent increase will amount to about £3 billion.