National Benchmarking Service (NBS)

Our NBS is for sports and leisure centres with main halls and/or swimming pools. It has created authoritative performance indicators and national benchmarks for these key local authority sports facilities.

Good local authorities will be measuring and assessing their performance to achieve continual improvement and understand how they are performing against others. Local government is the major investor of public money in sport and more than 60% of its net expenditure on sport is typically on indoor sports facilities.

Right Directions in partnership with Leisure-net is the NBS managing agent and the Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam University is the NBS analyst.

How can the CSP use the tool with partners?

The role of the county sports partnership (CSP) is to promote and advocate the use of NBS and signpost interested local authorities to the NBS website.

What are the costs?

  • £850 per centre for the Full Report plus the cost of any externally provided user survey
  • £300 per centre for the Efficiency Report (NB no user survey required)
  • £670 per centre for the Effectiveness Report plus the cost of any externally provided user survey.

There are savings available on the above costs should more than four centres from a local authority sign up to undertake the Full, Efficiency or Effectiveness Reports.

What can it be used for?

  • To contribute towards an effective focus on improvement in the context of best value and assessment of local government performance
  • To allow local authorities to measure a facility’s performance for a broad basket of indicators that include financial performance, access and utilisation, and importance and satisfaction scores from users
  • To allow comparisons that are not only reliable and rigorous but also simple and effective for management purposes
  • To allow local interpretation and determination of performance in response to local policy decisions.

What will it tell me?

The aim of the NBS is to provide local authorities with rigorous and robust information on the performance of their sports and leisure centres compared with that of equivalent family facilities elsewhere in the country. For each centre, clients of the NBS select an appropriate level of support for their data collection, deliver the required data and receive a facility-specific report on performance relative to national benchmarks.

Sports and leisure centres can choose from a Full Report – assessing access, utilisation, finance and customer satisfaction; an Efficiency Report – assessing finance and utilisation performance; or an Effectiveness Report, which takes access, utilisation and customer satisfaction into consideration. A one-page executive summary will also ensure the reports are clear and easy to understand.

What won't it tell me?

It will inform the sport and leisure centre on what they need to focus on to improve their performance, but not how they achieve this improvement.

Where can I find out more?

Contact NBS at or by calling 01603 814233