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Swimming Pool Support Fund

We administered the government’s £80 million fund for public swimming pools.

Please note, both phases of this fund are now closed to submissions and all applicants have been notified of the outcome of their applications.

Below are details about the fund, how people could apply, what it could be spent on and links to news stories announcing the recipients from each phase.

If you were successful in receiving Phase II funding, the documentation you need to progress your project and claim your funding is available.

About the fund

The government's Swimming Pool Support Fund (SPSF) provided a total of £80 million to local authorities in England as a support package for public leisure facilities with swimming pools and was split into two phases.

  • Phase I - Revenue: £20m was available to support facilities with swimming pools with increased cost pressures, leaving them most vulnerable to closure or significant service reduction.
  • Phase II - Capital: £60m was available from the government for capital investment to improve the energy efficiency of public facilities with pools in the medium to long term.

We made £20m of Lottery funding available to complement the government's £40m capital fund in Phase II, which increased the number of facilities benefiting from these facility improvements.

We worked with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to set the fund criteria and acted as the accountable body for its administration and monitoring - on behalf of DCMS.

We also worked closely with the Local Government Association (LGA), Swim England, the Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association, ukactive, the District Councils' Network, the Active Partnership Network, Community Leisure UK and a sample of their wider membership to test the application and funding process to ensure it was as robust but simple as possible.

Two people swim lengths in a swimming pool

Phase 1 – Revenue

The full list of facilities receiving funding is available. This phase of the fund has been allocated in full.

Phase II - Capital

The full list of facilities receiving funding is available. This phase of the fund has been allocated in full.

Funding objectives

The objectives of Phase II - Capital of the SPSF were to:

  • reduce the energy consumption level of facilities in receipt of funding, compared to baseline, and support the leisure sector to transition to a position of environmental and financial sustainability. 
  • minimise the closure of swimming pool provision, where funding has been provided, to a site to prevent gaps in public leisure provision emerging. 
  • reduce the carbon output of facilities in receipt of funding, compared to baseline, in line with the government's Net Zero by 2050 objectives.   
  • prioritise support in those areas of greatest socio-economic need (as evidenced by IMD level), where all other factors are equal. 

For the purposes of SPSF, a pool must offer public pay-as-you-swim sessions to be eligible and this offer must be significant enough to be considered part of the local public swimming provision by the local authority. Private hire of a swimming pool is not considered to be public access.


Who and what we funded

Like Phase I, Phase II of the SPSF was a competitive fund allocated in a single funding round.

Only applications meeting the eligibility criteria and presenting a case aligning with the fund’s core objectives were encouraged to apply. Due to the competitive nature of the fund not all local authorities were successful in their application and successful local authorities may not have received funding for all the facilities they applied for.

Who could apply?

Applications must have been from a local authority that:

  • is based in England,
  • has at least one swimming pool that will benefit from improved energy efficiency because of this support
  • have applied for funding towards eligible costs.

Local authority applicants (unitary, metropolitan district, district, city and borough councils) were asked to co-ordinate a single submission to the fund on behalf of all publicly accessible swimming pools in their area and engage with operators, independent charitable organisations and other tiers of government (e.g. parish councils) managing public pools within their area.

Any funding needed to be safeguarded with security of tenure. The length of the security required by Sport England varied according to the amount of the grant. 

Applicants didn't need to have applied for Phase I, to be eligible for Phase II.

What we’ve funded

Phase II funded eligible costs relating to capital investments that reduce swimming pool facilities’ energy consumption levels. Eligible costs include:

  • Material costs
  • Installation costs associated with the intervention
  • Professional and technical project fees directly associated with the on-site construction/installation of the capital intervention

Reasonable enabling works to prepare the site for the capital project may have been included in the application, provided they were directly linked to the core technologies being installed and these were reviewed for value for money.

What we haven’t fund

  • Costs of new build facilities, but the funding could be used to enhance a planned refurbishment as long as the monies were additional to the current plans.
  • Costs or liabilities incurred prior to award of the grant funding.
  • Ongoing repairs or maintenance costs.
  • Interventions that were included in future budgeted plans and are not new capital projects.
  • Costs of additional surveys and options appraisals across a number of facilities or for a specific facility

Applicants were strongly encouraged to apply for capital interventions that are known to generate a reduction in energy consumption levels and, wherever possible, a reduction in carbon output of swimming pool facilities.

The interventions in the table below formed the 'menu of options' available in Phase II.

They're listed in a priority order, by which the facility was encouraged to have completed the higher priority items before moving to items further down, although it's appreciated that site specifics may dictate if this was feasible.

Priority group Intervention
  • Photo voltaic (PV) panels
  • Install additional metering and monitoring software
  • Variable speed filtration
  • Shower flow restrictors
  • Variable speed fans
  • Main pool cover
  • Learner pool cover
  • Heat recovery to air handling units
  • Replace fluorescent lighting with LED lighting
  • Variable speed heating/cooling pumps
  • Install combined heat and power boiler
  • Replace gas boilers older than 20 years
  • Thermostatic radiator valves
  • Upgrade pool hall windows to triple glazing
  • Plant room insulation
  • Power factor correction
  • Micro filtration

How much could be applied for?

Our expectation is that each successful application will receive a minimum of £20,000 and a maximum of £1m.

These limits apply to the local authority as a whole and not the individual facilities included within an application.

Awards will detail the specific facility or facilities that have been successful and received funding.

Funding can only be used to support the facility that has been successful with the specific intervention named in the Funding Agreement.

Local authorities can't use funding to support any other facilities or interventions that have been unsuccessful during the application process. 

After you applied

Once an application was submitted using the portal, the applicant was notified on the portal to confirm receipt of their application.

The applications were considered and reviewed by representatives of Sport England and DCMS from 17 October 2023.

If further information was needed from local authorities, the applicant was contacted by a member of the SPSF team and the information was needed to be returned within 48 hours to be considered.

When a final decision was made on an application, an email was be sent to the applicant notifying them of the decision.

The funding award decision is final and applicants were notified of the outcome by the end of January 2024.

If a funding award was approved, applicants received a Grant Agreement and BACS form for signature and payment was made on receipt of evidence of eligible expenditure.

The funding programme was oversubscribed, which meant taking some tough decisions - please be aware that we'd limited funds available and therefore couldn't fund everything we'd have liked to.

Frequently asked questions

These FAQs detailing criteria for Phase II of the fund were updated on Friday 22 September, 2023 - updates below are in italics.

  • I have more than one public swimming pool operator - am I able to make an application for more than one operator?

    Yes. We would actively encourage the local authority to ensure they engage with all operators including independent charitable organisations managing public pools that offer pay-as-you-swim sessions.

    Local authorities must submit an application for each of the facilities (and providers) that it wishes to apply for, e.g. three facilities would require three separate applications.

    Individual application forms for pool facilities can be uploaded to the applicant portal at any time between 3 October and noon on 17 October.

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  • I represent a parish/town council that operates a public swimming pool - am I eligible to make an application to the SPSF?

    Applications to SPSF will only be accepted from unitary, metropolitan district, district, city and borough councils in England.

    Parish and Town Councils that operate a public sector swimming pool that offers pay-as-you-swim sessions must liaise with their relevant local authority to discuss their inclusion in the application.

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  • I represent a community organisation that operates a public swimming pool - is it eligible for the SPSF?

    Applications to SPSF will only be accepted from English local authorities.

    All other organisations that operate a public sector swimming pool that offers pay-as-you-swim sessions must liaise with their relevant local authority to discuss their inclusion in the application.

    There's no set threshold for the number of hours of pay-as-you-swim.

    The local authority should consider if the pool's public pay-as-you-swim offer is of strategic importance and makes a sufficiently significant contribution to the local offer to be included in the application. 

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  • Can a pool on a school site be included in the application?

    Yes if it's part of the public swimming provision in your area - it must offer public pay-as-you-swim sessions.

    We wouldn't consider a pool offering swimming lessons or private hire only, to be part of the public swimming provision.

    There's no set threshold for the number of hours of pay-as-you-swim.

    The local authority should consider if the pool's public pay-as-you-swim offer is of strategic importance and makes a sufficiently significant contribution to the local offer to be included in the application.

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  • Why do I need to provide the level of information requested?

    Phase II of the SPSF is a competitive fund of £40 million, in addition to which Sport England have made £20m of National Lottery Funding available. The information will enable Sport England and the DCMS to assess the applications and make a robust informed decision.

    This will allow us to maximise the impact of the funding, deliver value for money and use public funds prudently.

    In order to undertake this assessment, the expectation is that applications will deliver a well-thought-out case, outlining the reasons why the requested intervention is the right one for the facility.

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  • Levels of deprivation vary a lot in my local area - how will this be taken into account?

    Level of deprivation will be taken into account in the decision making where all other factors are equal.

    Therefore, it will only be used in a tie-break situation.

    To acknowledge the varying level of deprivation in a local area we will be assessing the average level of deprivation within a 20-minute drive time from the facility.

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  • Are lidos and outdoor swimming pools eligible for the SPSF?

    Yes. If a local authority considers an outdoor swimming pool such as a lido to be part of the public sector swimming provision in an area and that financial support is needed, then it is eligible for inclusion in the application.

    Paddling pools and splash pools should not be included.

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  • Can I apply for funding for more than one swimming pool?

    Yes. Local authorities can apply for funding for one or more public swimming pools that offer pay-as-you-swim sessions within their local area, but should not apply for more than a total of £1m in support.

    We encourage all applicants to carefully consider which facilities within their local authority area are most in need of support and best meet the criteria.

    Part of the assessment criteria will assess the proximity of facilities to other public sector swimming provision to assess the risk around gaps in provision being created.

    Applicants should consider this when determining what facilities to apply for.

    SPSF is a competitive fund. Therefore, we expect some applicants will not receive any funding, some applicants will not receive funding for all facilities applied for and some applicants may not receive the full funding request.

    Therefore, potential applicants need to carefully consider the facilities they apply for and which capital interventions they apply for within those facilities, their prioritisation within the local authority area and how these most closely align with the criteria of the fund.

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  • Why am I required to prioritise the facilities I'm applying for?

    SPSF is a competitive fund and not all local authorities and facilities will receive funding.

    Each facility that is applied for will be subject to review against the fund assessment criteria and will be assessed accordingly.

    During the award process we want to ensure that we consider local priorities when making decisions and this prioritisation from the local authority will help inform this.

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  • Can I apply for funding that exceeds £1 million?

    We anticipate funding per authority and per facility to be capped at £1m. This cap may be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.

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  • Can a charitable trust be included in the application where the local authority doesn't own the asset?

    Applications to SPSF will only be accepted from local authorities in England.

    If you are a charitable trust/community organisation and operate a public sector swimming pool that offers pay-as-you-swim sessions, then you must liaise with your relevant local authority to discuss your inclusion in the application (even if the asset is not owned by the local authority).

    We encourage local authorities to proactively engage with these organisations within their area.

    Applications must be submitted by the local authority; we will not accept applications from other bodies.

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  • What if the facility can't be kept open?

    If you have successfully bid but are unable to keep the facility open, then the local authority applicant may be liable to repay the funding.

    The terms that applicants must agree to will be set out in a Grant Agreement that must be signed prior to funding being received.

    Sport England and DCMS will take into account unforeseen circumstances if this is the case but reserve the right to recover the funding.

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  • Can Sport England access my Moving Communities data to populate the historic participation data in my application form?

    Yes. By ticking the box on the application form, Sport England can gain access to your historic participation data from Moving Communities if you are submitting to the service already for the particular facility in question.

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  • The application asks whether funding has already been received for the same eligible costs. Why is Sport England asking for this and how can I find out the answer?

    As part of any consideration of subsidy control it is important to establish if the ultimate recipient of the funds (which could be the operator of the particular facility or the local authority itself) has received any other government subsidy for the same costs (i.e. utility and others costs associated with the operation of the swimming pools).

    This is because of subsidy control cumulation rules. If the recipient has already received a subsidy, they should have been notified about this at the point of receiving the subsidy.

    Therefore, in order to establish if there is subsidy cumulation applicants should declare any subsidy (including any Minimal Financial Assistance) already received in the “Applicable Period” (i.e. the elapsed part of the current financial year (from 1 April 2023) and the two financial year immediately preceding it).

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  • The pool has received funding under the Energy Bill Relief Scheme and/or the Energy Bill Discount Scheme - are these reportable, for the purposes of cumulation, under this scheme?

    No. The EBRS was not a 'subsidy' scheme because it was open to all UK businesses and so the funding provided under it was not considered to satisfy the definition of 'subsidy'.

    The EBDS is a subsidy scheme in so far as it applies to energy and trade intensive industries – but enterprises active in the leisure sector were excluded from this scheme and so should not have received any subsidy under it.

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  • I have a question that's not answered in the guidance - is there further support available to answer my question?

    Yes. If you have a question this guidance doesn’t cover, please email your query to and a member of the SPSF team will be in touch.

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  • I need additional support to complete my application - is there any further help available?

    Yes. Please contact if you wish to discuss this in more detail.

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  • Should VAT be included in the costs?

    Local authorities should exclude VAT from the costs in their application unless the local authority can demonstrate VAT is not an irrecoverable cost for a specific facility included in the application.

    Where the costs include VAT, this should be specifically referenced in the narrative explanation for the funding request.

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  • How is the square meterage of the swimming provision defined?

    The total square meterage should be the water area only and not the surrounding areas.

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  • What data should I include for pools on education sites?

    Where a pool on an education site has a public pay-as-you-swim offer, these facilities can be included in the application.

    For pools on education sites, the operational times and participation data should reflect only public swimming.

    The detail on what should be included in participation data is set out in more detail in the guidance on the Application Form. 

    School swimming lessons and private hire data should not be included.

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  • Will it affect the application if we've been successful for an award under the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme?

    No, if you've been successful with an application to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme led by the Department for Energy Security and New Zero (formerly the Department for Energy and Industrial Strategy) this does not mean it cannot be included in the application.

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  • Can I include a PFI pool in my application?

    Pools under PFI contracts can be included if they meet the funding criteria.

    You should include details about the PFI arrangements in relation to energy and chemical costs, as well as who holds the responsibility for maintaining the buildings, in the narrative section of the application.

    The SPSF cannot be used for any other costs related to PFI contracts.

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  • Can I apply for SPSF funding if I am also applying for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS)?

    Yes. However applications for the PSDS are not yet open, while applications for the SPSF will close in October, so you will need to consider this when deciding what to apply for.

    Awards made under the SPSF will need to be confirmed by the end of the financial year and if they are reliant on funding from other sources to proceed (e.g. the PSDS) this will need to be included within the application.

    If you do not receive funding after applying for the SPSF, you can check whether your proposed project would be eligible for funding under PSDS.

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  • One of the facilities I want to apply for is not in public ownership - can I still apply?

    Yes, we are aware that community pools owned and operated by community groups or charities may not be in public ownership.

    These pools can apply if they operate as if they were in public ownership and they are able to meet the security of tenure requirements.

    It's unlikely the SPSF will fund pools in private ownership (an exception may be where a privately owned pool is dedicated to public use and is considered by the LA as a strategically important part of the public swimming offer).

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  • Do I have to have undertaken all of the “menu items” that are deemed a higher priority than the item I want to apply for?

    No, we are aware that site specifics may dictate whether a particular item is feasible. 

    This should be explained in the narrative text provided around why you are applying for a particular item.

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  • What level of detail are you expecting us to provide in relation to the capital items applied for?

    For each of the menu items applied for, you will be required at the application stage to provide high level information about the intervention at the facility you are applying for.

    This should comprise a basic description of what is proposed (and for example include simple marked up site plans showing proposed locations or the proposed specifications for new installations as supplementary documents to your application) along with estimates of the likely costs.  Any specifics required for a particular item at application stage are detailed in the table in Appendix A in the detailed guidance. 

    Where existing work has been undertaken around feasibility and planning (e.g. schematics or proposed control configurations) and/or quotes sourced, this information should be provided as supporting evidence with the file name clearly indicating which facility it relates to. 

    Where high level information has been provided, we would expect the detailed work to be undertaken post award with the outputs listed in the table provided as part of the evidence for payment.  

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  • I don't have detailed cost information - what should I use?

    The table presented in Appendix A of the detailed guidance provides a list of indicative costs, including ranges where appropriate. 

    We understand costs will vary depending on the specific facility, manufacturing and materials, therefore applicants are required to provide detail as to why costs may differ from these ranges.

    However, where cost information is not available these ranges can be used as part of the application, and we would expect detailed quotes to be gathered post award (although if these are higher than the range provided this will not change the amount of funding awarded).

    It's important that the amount applied for is proportionate to the intervention being proposed. 

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  • I don't have detailed forecasts around energy savings - what should I use?

    The table presented in Appendix A of the detailed guidance describes the potential energy savings that could result.

    In the absence of other information, we suggest you use these to inform the basis of your forecasts and to explain the approach you have taken in the accompanying narrative.

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  • Is partnership or matched funding required?

    This isn't a requirement as we recognise not all local authorities may be in a position to propose partnership funding.

    If partnership funding isn't proposed it will be useful to explain why. You can apply for 100% of the cost of the intervention.

    However, as the SPSF aims to make as much impact as possible in safeguarding public swimming provision, we'll need to take account of the value for money of proposals.

    Where an intervention is part of a wider programme of capital works to reduce energy consumption, details of the scheme should be included in the narrative but not in the budget section of the application form.

    This will be taken into consideration when considering value for money. 

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  • What will happen if a funded project comes in over budget?

    We expect the SPSF budget of £60m will be fully committed in the December decisions.

    It's most likely that any increases in project costs will need to be met through other sources of funding. 

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  • Can cavity wall or roof insulation be included as an intervention?

    Yes, as an off-menu item. An explanation of why this hasn't been addressed already will be needed and robust evidence, including a feasibility study, to support the application.

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  • Are capital interventions known to reduce carbon output preferred?

    Yes. Where practical alternative interventions can be included as off-menu items such as air source heat pumps.

    We would only expect interventions reliant on gas to be included where there's no reasonable/practical alternative and they should still have the required impact on operational costs.

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  • Can the intervention be across the whole building?

    The intervention must be specific to the pool and associated areas, such as wet-side changing rooms.

    The fund is for swimming pool provision and while we recognise the difficulties of part building interventions the fund isn't of a size which can address full building interventions and still meet the objective of contributing to sustainability of a large number of pools.  

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  • If the roof can't support photo-voltaic panels, can we apply to install photo-voltaic units on other structures

    Yes, for example solar photo-voltaic (PV) panels on carports can be included but the SPSF request must be limited to the PV units and not the supporting structure.

    The cost of strengthening a roof should not be included in the amount requested from the SPSF.

    These costs must be met from other funds. 

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  • Can we apply to upgrade an existing intervention?

    Yes. We'd expect the funding request to be the difference between like-for-like replacement and the cost of the new intervention.

    If a pool cover or boiler has reached the end of its useful life, a request could include the cost of the new intervention over and above the cost of a straight replacement.

    The fund shouldn't be used to substitute for budgeted lifecycle items. 

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