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A third of leisure trusts 'unviable' in the next six months without a bail-out, says CLUK

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Bolton Arena
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Once facilities are mothballed they are unlikely to reopen ever again
– Mark Tweedie

A significant proportion of leisure facilities in England have not reopened since lockdown measures were eased, according to data from industry body, Community Leisure UK (CLUK).

The latest data collected by CLUK also shows that a third of leisure trusts face 'unviability' in the next six months, without financial support.

HCM has been given a preview of figures from the Community Leisure UK Covid-19 Impact Report, to be published later this month (August), which is based on the latest survey data gathered by CLUK, which representing charitable trusts delivering public leisure services across the UK.

Other key headline figures indicate that nearly 7,000 jobs have already been lost in the trusts sector – and thousands more are set to follow without financial support.

The forced, four-month closures – and the subsequent limited capacities enforced since lockdown – have led to leisure trusts burning their financial reserves to prop up their businesses.

CLUK estimates that, by March 2021, the leisure trust sector will collectively have just 10 per cent of the financial reserves it had pre lockdown.

According to Mark Tweedie, CLUK chief executive, while the sector has welcomed the opportunity to "get back to business" since 25 July, it is in a vulnerable state and facing severe financial challenges.

"Reducing reserves mean increasing financial vulnerability and inability to deal with local lockdowns – or a second COVID-19 spike," Tweedie said.

"And once facilities are mothballed they are unlikely to reopen ever again.

"If we lose our valuable leisure assets – the facilities – it will have a negative impact on local economies and on physical and mental health and wellbeing. This would be detrimental to current government policies, such as the new obesity strategy and efforts to help tackle diabetes and mental illness."

“Half the population use indoor facilities and leisure centres to undertake their regular exercise – including some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"A DCMS Select Committee report has already highlighted the urgent need for funding and we know Sport England have made the government aware of the severe impact on public leisure provision – and are continuing to support our sector to secure the additional financial support necessary to avail the serious economic viability concerns."

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A "significant proportion" of leisure facilities in England have not reopened since lockdown measures were eased, according to data from industry body Community Leisure UK (CLUK).
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