CIMSPA urges Prime Minister to support the sector

Marc  Woods 1280 x720



Dear Prime Minister,

I write to you with an urgent request to provide financial support to the grassroots sport, physical activity and leisure sector.

Both you and the Chief Medical Officer have consistently said that staying physically active and healthy is one of the best ways to combat the risk of Covid-19. Indeed, at the height of lockdown, exercise was considered as an essential daily activity.

However, the sector that underpins and enables much of the nation’s physical activity is in trouble. Further to this sectors’ letter to you dated the 21st September (sent by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson, Chair of ukactive and signed by more than 100 leaders from sport and physical activity) it is estimated that 48% of public leisure facilities could close and up to 300,000 of the 579,000 people employed in the sector could lose their jobs by Christmas, as a result of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. Many facility operators are ineligible to apply for a business interruption loan and are bound by charity law to hold limited reserves. What reserves were available have now been all but depleted.

These are facilities and qualified professionals who play a vital role in supporting the health and wellbeing of communities up and down the country. While a very small number of our members have found innovative online solutions, this has not, in reality, replaced the in-person services and facilities needed by the vast majority of people.

This ask goes well beyond sport, as important as that is. Our sector helps people to stay fit and healthy, both physically and mentally. We bring communities together and provide opportunities for children to be active. We also play a vital role in the rehabilitation of stroke, cancer and heart patients, work with prediabetic patients, and much more.

The Minister for Sport has recently said, “Leisure centres play a pivotal role in the mental and physical health of local communities.”

Prior to the pandemic, community physical activity generated £85.5bn of value annually for the country and the sector is estimated to save the NHS £9.5bn per year, made up of:
  • £5.2bn in healthcare savings
  • £1.7bn in social care savings
  • £3.6bn savings by prevention of 900,000 diabetes cases
  • £3.5bn saved through avoided dementia cases and related care
  • £450m saved by preventing 30m GP visits
The sector needs around £800m to support it through the next six months, but we are not asking for a bailout. Supporting this sector would be an investment in our nation’s health, representing annual average savings to the NHS of £9.5B and an investment in an industry that was thriving before the pandemic, and will trade out of the crisis and into recovery quicker than most sectors when life returns to normal and restrictions are lifted.

The Treasury has had the research and data behind our sector’s request for support for over a month, but the time to act is now. If we let these facilities and jobs disappear, the impact will be felt for many years to come.

Yours sincerely,

Marc Woods
Chair, The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity

 

The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity


CIMSPA’s work enhances the career opportunities and professional development of the workforce operating in sport, fitness, exercise, leisure, gyms, coaching, outdoor exercise, health and wellbeing. We achieve this through sector-wide engagement, membership, networking, events, directories and professional standards.
 

Incorporated by Royal Charter Charity registration number 1144545

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