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  • Writer's pictureDepartment of Culture, Media and Sport

More than 300 swimming pools to benefit from £60 million to support long-term future

325 swimming pools and leisure centres across England will receive a share of £60.5 million to ensure their long-term financial sustainability, by improving their energy efficiency to keep running costs down.

  • 300 public swimming pools across England will receive a share of £60 million from the Government and Sport England to improve their energy efficiency and keep running costs down

  • Builds on almost 200 swimming pools that received a share of £20 million through Phase I of the Swimming Pool Support Fund, taking total spending to £80 million 

  • The investment will help ensure that millions of visitors can continue to use these facilities, helping us meet our target of getting 3.5 million more people active by 2030

Hundreds of facilities have received Government investment to help improve the energy efficiency of their pools and leisure centres. Measures being supported by the latest Swimming Pool Support Fund investment include funding for new heating systems, solar panels, better insulation and other energy-saving interventions. 

Swimming is a great way for people of all ages to stay active, with positive impacts on physical and mental health, as demonstrated by Swim England’s 2022 Value of Swimming report. This investment in the financial sustainability of hundreds of swimming pools will help ensure that the more than 58 million visits to these facilities each year are protected, helping improve the health of the nation.

With the increase in energy costs over recent years, the Government has recognised the importance of these facilities to people of all ages and stepped in to make sure the doors of local pools and leisure centres are kept open for local communities.

The latest round of funding is intended to help the longer-term energy and financial resilience of the sector, with 96% of applicants for the latest round being successful in the application for Government and Sport England funding.

In total, this means that 442 swimming pools in 367 local authorities will have benefited from a share of £80 million in funding since the fund was announced in last year’s budget. The first £20 million of funding from Phase I of the Swimming Pool Support Fund went to swimming pools and leisure centres most at risk of closure or significant service reduction in November, with 196 facilities benefitting.

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: 

We are sticking to our plan to get millions more people active by 2030 because we know that active people are fitter, happier and healthier.

Millions of people swim every year in England, but increased energy costs mean some pools are struggling financially.

This further £60 million of support from the Government and Sport England will ensure hundreds of swimming pools can lower their operating costs in the long run, and continue to provide an important service for communities across the country.

Some examples from this round of funding include:

  • The Pulse in Stroud has received almost £300,000 to fund the refurbishment of its entrance area and a new air-handling unit;

  • The Yarborough Leisure Centre in Lincoln has received over £600,000 for new solar panels and variable speed fans;

  • The South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre in Chelmsford has received over £233,000 for a new gas boiler as the old one was over 20 years old, as well as new variable speed pumps to improve the efficiency of filtration;

  • The Wem Swimming and Lifestyle Centre in Shropshire has received over £138,000 for better insulation and new solar panels;

  • The Leigh Leisure Centre in Wigan has received almost £70,000 for new LED lighting

Successful applicants have been funded to make renovations to facilities which are expected to reduce their energy consumption, and in their applications needed to outline why the interventions were appropriate and deliverable. Other criteria for selection included an assessment of the expected energy saving, distances from other pools, and the strategic importance of each site at a local level.

Interventions for this phase of the SPSF include insulation and pool covers, solar panels and energy-efficient lighting to keep overheads down, and has been boosted by an extra £20 million of Sport England National Lottery funding to help even more facilities.

Former Team GB Swimmer Michael Gunning said:

Our pools are a hub for the entire community and I’ve seen first-hand the importance of increasing access to aquatics for people of all ages.

The pandemic was a tough time for all of us, but this investment will mean many more people from all backgrounds will have the chance to use their local pool. Whether it’s learning a vital skill, bringing families together to have fun, or using the water to improve your physical and mental health – swimming pools save lives.

Sport England Executive Director for Place Lisa Dodd-Mayne said:

Swimming pools and leisure centres are vital community resources and are enormously important in helping people to be physically active.

Many pools have faced a real and significant threat to their survival this year, as local authorities and operators have battled the challenge of increased energy and wider costs, weakened reserves and difficulties with retaining staff.

Sport England is proud of the role we’ve played in supporting these facilities through this difficult period. We hope today’s funding announcement will enable more public pools to improve their energy efficiency to be more environmentally and financially sustainable so they remain available for future generations to enjoy.

The Government recently published its new sports strategy to get 2.5 million more adults and one million more young people meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance of 150 minutes per week for adults, and 60 minutes per day for young people by 2030. 

To help reach this target, this support for swimming pools is part of a record investment of almost £400 million in grassroots facilities, including multi-sport facilities and park tennis courts.


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