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UK activity sector rises up to battle for energy support with 200-strong letter to PM

A coalition of national health and sports bodies, fitness and leisure groups, athletes and celebrities have signed a letter to the prime minister asking for energy crisis support
According to UK Active, leisure industry energy bills are 200 per cent higher than they were before the crisis
Thousands of swimming pools and clubs are at risk of closure – government has failed to classify them as energy intensive (ETII status)
Jane Nickerson, chief executive of Swim England, says letter shows the ‘seriousness of the situation these facilities are facing’
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The breadth of organisations who have joined forces to send such a clear message to the government demonstrates the seriousness of the situation these facilities are facing as a result of hugely increased energy costs
– Jane Nickerson, chief executive, Swim England
Credit: Swim England

The government’s energy relief for swimming pools, leisure centres and gyms is scheduled to end on 31 March leaving thousands set for closure or service cuts. In response, more than 200 national sports organisations, fitness and leisure groups and individuals from the health and fitness and sports industries have sent a letter to prime minister Rishi Sunak asking for support. Athlete and celebrity signatories include Rebecca Adlington, Duncan Goodhew MBE, Daley Thompson CBE and Davina McCall.

“The breadth of organisations that have joined forces to send such a clear message to the government demonstrates the hugely important role our swimming pools and leisure centres play in supporting the health of the nation and the seriousness of the situation these facilities are facing as a result of hugely increased energy costs,” said Jane Nickerson, chief executive of Swim England.

“It’s vital they get the support they need so they can remain at the heart of local communities, helping people lead healthier and happier lives and reducing pressures on the NHS and social care system.”

Last month the UK government scaled back energy support for businesses through the Energy Bills Discount Scheme, capping it at £5.5bn from 1 April 2023, saying gas prices had fallen and better weather was ahead. The previous programme (known as the Energy Bills Relief Scheme) from 1 Oct 2022-31 March 2023 was £16bn.

The government also failed to classify any facilities in the leisure industry as energy intensive – Energy and Trade Intensive Industry (ETII) status – despite being warned in November 2022 that around 100 swimming pools could close in the following six months if additional support was not granted.

UK Active has confirmed that thousands of facilities and clubs are now at risk of permanent closure or reduced services, as operators of all sizes face unprecedented financial challenges, with bills up to 200 per cent higher than before the crisis.

Data from UK Active’s members shows that 31 per cent of council areas in England remain at risk of losing their leisure centres or seeing reduced services from 1 April. Around 350 facilities have already having seen service restrictions and both temporary and permanent closures since October 2022.

“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,” reads the letter.

“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.
  • • Produce a plan for growth for the sector by aligning the proposed new Sports Strategy with the Spring Budget (which will be publlished on 15 March 2023) to unlock the potential of the sector to support the economic, health, educational and social wellbeing of the nation.

The letter was coordinated by a group of bodies, including: Active Partnerships, the Association for Public Service Excellence, the CIMSPA, CLOA, CLUK, 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 UK Active.

“Over two hundred organisations and prominent individuals are united in urging the government to safeguard essential community facilities across the country that remain under threat of service restrictions and closure, impacting people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active.

“Pools, gyms, leisure centres, and community facilities form part of our social fabric, and they are vital for our nation’s health and the economy. Action must be taken to protect our facilities, and to help them recover and grow so they can in turn support the growth of a healthier, happier, more productive nation.”

The plight of pools is being highlighted as part of Big Swim Day on 24 February, with people across the country urged to visit their local swimming facility and show their support by enjoying a swim and urging action in order to help keep pools open.

More than one million children a year learn to swim at community pools in England alone.

This is the full list of signatories:

1Life Management Solutions

Abbeycroft Leisure

Active IQ

Active Nation

Activity Alliance

Alliance Leisure Services

Anytime Clubs UK

Archery GB

Arthritis Action

Association of British Climbing Walls

Atrium Fitness

Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists

Badminton England

Barnsley Premier Leisure

Baseball Softball UK

Basketball England

BH Live

Boccia England

British American Football Association

British Association of Sport Rehabilitators and Trainers

British Canoeing

British Cycling

British Dressage

British Equestrian

British Fencing

British Gymnastics

British Ice Skating

British Judo

British Mountaineering Council

British Paralympic Association

British Rowing

British Shooting

British Showjumping

British Swimming Pool Federation

British Taekwondo

British Triathlon

British Water Ski & Wakeboard

British Weightlifting

British Wheelchair Basketball

British Wrestling

Club Kingswood

Code Fitness

Coordinate Sport

David Lloyd Leisure

Durham County Council

Edinburgh Leisure

Edstart Sports Coaching

eGym GmBH


Endurance GB

England and Wales Cricket Board

England Athletics

England Bowls

England Boxing

England Golf

England Handball

England Hockey

England Lacrosse

England Netball

England Squash

English Indoor Bowling Association

Everybody Health & Leisure

FisikalFitness First Clubs


Freedom Leisure


Fusion Lifestyle

GB Boxing


GM Active

Goalball UK

Good Boost

Great Britain Diving Federation

Great Britain Outrigger

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby

Greenhouse Sports


Halo Leisure

Hurlingham Polo Association

InBody UK


International Longevity Centre UK

Junior Adventure Group

Karate Union of Great Britain


Laban Guild International

Leeds City Council – Sport

Leisure-net Solutions

Lifestyle Fitness


Miha Bodytec

Mosaic Spa & Health Clubs

Move it or Lose it

Move Technologies


North Lanarkshire Council

Nuffield Health


Orthopaedic Research UK

Outdoor Industry Association

Parkour UK

Parkwood Leisure

Pentathlon GB

Places Leisure


Quartz Sequoia Events

Richmond Group of Charities

Rounders England

Royal Life Saving Society UK

Royal Yachting Association

Rugby Football League

Rugby Football Union

Scottish Leisure Network Group


Simply Smiles

Skateboard GB

SLM Community Leisure Charity Trust

SLM Health and Fitness

Snowsport England

Snowsport Wales

Sport Aberdeen

Sport for Confidence

Sports Leaders

Squash Wales

Stevenage Leisure

Surfing England

Swim Wales

Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association

Table Tennis England

The Food Addiction Coach

The Golf Foundation

The Gym Group

Thomas Pocklington Trust

Total Fitness

Trilogy Active

UK Athletics

UK Ultimate


Volleyball England

Wales Golf

Wales Netball

Water Babies

Watford FC Community Trust

Welsh Athletics

Welsh Cycling

Welsh Judo

Welsh Sports Association

Welsh Triathlon

Women In Sport

Women’s Sport Collective

Zoom Media

Rebecca Adlington OBE

Chemmy Alcott

Claire Cashmore MBE

Ed Clancy OBE

James Cracknell OBE

Ben Cutmore

Sharron Davies MBE

Laura Deas

Sam Downie

Mark Foster

Chelsie Giles

Luke Greenbank

Duncan Goodhew MBE

Mike Goody

Charlie Guest

Michael Gunning

Alfie Hewett

Anna Hopkin MBE

Adrian Moorhouse MBE

Alfie Hewett

Andy Jameson

Liz Johnson

Matty Lee MBE

Davina McCall

Steve Parry MBE

Keri-Anne Payne

Scarlett Mew Jensen

Jonnie Peacock MBE

Karen Pickering MBE

Scott Quin

Rebecca Redfern

Ellie Robinson MBE

Will Sach MBE

Kate Shortman

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix

Alice Tai MBE

Leon Taylor

Iwan Thomas

Daley Thompson CBE

Isabelle Thorpe

Dr Mike Tipton MBE

Lloyd Wallace

David Weir CBE

Professor Greg Whyte OBE

Marc Woods

Melanie Woods

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The government’s energy relief for swimming pools, leisure centres and gyms is set to end on 31 March leaving thousands set for closure or service cuts.

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