According to Swim England, the country’s rising energy costs threaten the closure of hundreds of public leisure facilities over the next six months.
To draw attention to the issue, Swim England has joined a coalition of organizations including the Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association, Community Leisure UK and others in the hope of receiving urgent financial help from the English government.
According to the British Parliament, “electricity prices have been rising for most of the last decade. Average bills were £760 ($949) in 2021 compared to £450 ($562) in 2020, an actual increase of 36%.
Additionally, “average heating oil prices have risen from just over 20 pence per liter at the start of the first lockdown to nearly 60 pence per liter by mid-October 2021”.
With forecasts of these reaching 185% in 2023, compared to 2021, all operators said they would cease operations within 18 months if no support was provided due to the “extreme” pressures they are under. face, according to Swim England.
Jane Nickersonmanaging director of Swim England, said of the situation: “The results of the survey of pool owners and operators paint a very gloomy picture of the future of our swimming pools and leisure centers with price hikes, service reductions and pool closures on the horizon.
“The number of organizations coming together to underscore the seriousness of this problem to the health and well-being of our nation should be a wake-up call to the government that an urgent solution must be found to support these vital facilities. .”
Against this backdrop, Swim England has sent a letter to the UK government asking for help to ensure the country’s physical activity infrastructure does not collapse amid the energy crisis.
“We are writing to ask for your commitment to be part of urgent discussions with local government leaders and industry groups to address the impact of the energy crisis on the fitness and recreation sector, and that these discussions begin in the next days.
“While we understand that this is a crisis that affects all aspects of our economy and society, the projected figures we have presented in this letter predict the collapse of parts of the infrastructure of the sport and physical activity in this country over the next few months – at a time when the nation will be inspired by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Global energy markets are under pressure due to rising demand as countries emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and because the war in Ukraine has threatened supplies from Russia. The UK only gets 4% of its oil and gas from Russia, but Russia is the world’s second largest exporter of crude behind Saudi Arabia, driving up prices globally. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier this year that the country plans to stop importing Russian oil, but not natural gas, by the end of 2022.
The UK reports that the average household energy bill in April 2022 jumped by a record 54% – the highest amount since the country started limiting price increases in 2017.