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Swimming Pool Support Fund open for applications

The £20 million revenue fund closes on 11 August, with a £40m pot for capital investment set to be made available in September, to help make facilities more energy efficient.

30th June 2023

Please note, this page was edited on 5 July, 2023.

The Swimming Pool Support Fund is now open to applications from local authorities with pools in their area.

Announced as part of the Spring Budget, the £60 million fund is split into two pots, with the £20m that opens for applications today helping those facilities with swimming pools that have increased cost pressures, leaving them most vulnerable to closure or significant service reduction.

The remaining £40m will be made available in September and will be for investment to improve the energy efficiency of public facilities with pools in the medium to long term.

People swim in lanes in an indoor swimming pool

Local authorities will be required to apply on behalf of the eligible pools in their area, with the revenue funding element – which we’re managing on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – closing on 11 August.

And with more than 2,000 public leisure centres in England, 800 of which have pools, our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth knows the vital role these facilities play in helping communities engage with sport and physical activity.

“I am really pleased the Swimming Pool Support Fund is now open to applications,” he said.

“We know that the provision of public swimming pools in England is at real risk because of the threats resulting from increased energy and maintenance costs, weakened operator reserves and staff retention difficulties. 

“And that those swimming pools play a critical role in contributing to physical activity participation rates and improving wider health and wellbeing.

“That’s why we’ve worked so closely with the Local Government Association, District Councils' Network, the Active Partnerships Network, Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association, ukactive, Community Leisure UK, Swim England and others when developing this fund on behalf of the DCMS.

“We wanted to make the application and funding process as fast and simple as possible, only requiring information that will be readily available to local authorities.

“While we recognise this funding cannot support all facilities with pools in England, it is a significant level of one-off support to contribute to the pressures being felt now and one that, combined with the capital investment available later in the year, will continue to help those most in need.”

Along with providing accessible opportunities to be active for their communities, public pools play a vital part in fulfilling schools’ statutory obligation to teach children to swim.

Currently, 72% of primary schools rely on public pools to do this, with 85% of children and young people learning to swim in a public facility.

"We know that the provision of public swimming pools in England is at real risk because of the threats resulting from increased energy and maintenance costs, weakened operator reserves and staff retention difficulties."

Tim Hollingsworth

Chief executive, Sport England

But with only 72% of children leaving primary school able to swim the government’s statutory requirement of 25m – a drop of 4% compared to 12 months ago and down 6.3% from pre-pandemic levels – we know that these facilities must be kept open.

Which is why council-run pools, pools run on behalf of councils by private companies and those run by charities are all eligible for support (full eligibility details are available on the SPSF page).

And Sports Minister Stuart Andrew is happy the money will go towards helping people lead active lives.

“We know that swimming pools and leisure centres need help with rising operating costs, which is why we have committed £60 million to improve sustainability and provide assistance for their day-to-day running,” he said.

“Local authorities across England can now apply for a share of the first tranche of £20m support which will help keep hundreds of pools open, so that children can continue to learn to swim and adults can keep active.”

Once the funds have been allocated, we’ll report performance data to our Moving Communities platform, which will enable us to assess and monitor the ongoing sustainability of public leisure facilities.

This information will, in turn, help us and the government to articulate what further support is needed to help protect the £6.4 billion of social value that’s created by leisure facilities.

Further details on the additional £40m of capital fundingwhich has been allocated to improve resilience and help the sector transition to a more sustainable future, will be set out in due course – pools may receive money from both pots but equally, it will be possible to apply just for revenue or just for capital.

Find out more and how to apply

Swimming Pool Support Fund

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