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Leisure centres and gyms get boost ahead of reopening

More than 250 local authorities have now received an allocation from the £100 million National Leisure Recovery Fund.

20th March 2021

Users of local authority leisure centres have received encouraging news ahead of their potential reopening on 12 April as £100 million of Exchequer funding has been successfully distributed.

The National Leisure Recovery Fund opened on 14 December, last year, with the aim of assisting the reopening and recovery of the leisure service and prevent further closures of outsourced leisure trusts and operators.

The Exchequer funding, which was managed by us, has now been distributed to 266 local authorities, helping them to reopen when restrictions allow – which could be from 12 April.

A man uses a chest press machine in the gym

Gyms and leisure centres play a crucial role in helping people to be active and they’ll be crucial in our nation’s recovery from coronavirus (Covid-19) as well as wider health, wellbeing and community benefits.

And the allocation of this funding will help publicly-owned leisure centres and gyms now prepare for reopening in earnest – a welcome announcement for our chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth.

“Leisure facilities have a vital role to play in supporting the health of the nation and in particular in serving our more disadvantaged communities,” he said.

“They have been hit especially hard over the past year, so this investment is crucial and will help thousands to reopen when it becomes possible to do so – supporting the recovery and helping people get back to the activity they have badly missed.

“Sport England has worked at pace to enable the distribution of the investment to happen as quickly as possible and remains committed to doing what we can to continue to support this crucial part of our sector.”

During the pandemic, leisure centres forced to close due to restrictions have been repurposed and used to provide other critical functions, such as acting as vaccination centres.

But this funding means they’ll now be able to return to their core function of providing sport and physical activity facilities where users can boost their mental and physical wellbeing.

Sport England has worked at pace to enable the distribution of the investment to happen as quickly as possible

Tim Hollingsworth

Chief executive, Sport England

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We know that local authorities have faced significant financial pressure as a result of the pandemic, so this £100m for leisure will be vital in helping them recover.

“Communities across England rely on their local leisure centre or gym to help them keep fit and healthy and this funding will assist those public facilities to make ends meet.”

The reopening of leisure centres and gyms for individual, socially-distanced use, is part of Step 2 in the government’s roadmap to recovery from coronavirus, and will happen no earlier than 12 April.

Step 3, which can come into effect no earlier than 17 May, will see indoor adult group sports and exercise classes permitted.

In addition to the Exchequer support from the National Leisure Recovery Fund, we’ve committed more than £270m in emergency funding to grassroots sport.

Click below for a full list of the 266 local authority recipients of the National Leisure Recovery Fund.

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