On 22 November, Philip Hammond will present the Autumn Budget. This is an opportunity for the Chancellor to invest in the health of the nation by injecting funds into the UK’s public leisure facilities.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that leisure centres could fall into disrepair and even be forced to close without urgent new investment.
We know that modern leisure centres with the right mix of facilities and services can change lives by engaging people of ages and abilities in activity, which is why we at Alliance Leisure wholeheartedly support the LGA’s call to government for a £400m funding pot to pay for improvements to infrastructure for health and wellbeing. Partnering with the private sector allows local authorities to maximise investment in their centres by reducing the risk of rising costs and increasing the possibility of securing additional funding thereby increasing the impact of government capital.
Investment in run-down leisure centres are proven to benefit the physical health and wellbeing of the communities they serve. Our most recent redevelopment has been Salt Ayre Leisure Centre in Lancaster. Here an investment of £5 million transformed tired facilities into a thriving community hub, attracting a 72 per cent increase in usage. What’s even more interesting is that the subsequent increase in income will see the development costs repaid and the asset turning a profit within three years, creating a sustainable community service for many years to come.
With severe cuts to funding, local authorities need help. We hope the Chancellor takes this opportunity to stem the decline of our leisure facilities by giving the public sector the resources it needs to invest in fit-for-purpose centres that can help improve the physical health of the nation.