Local councils eligible to the new leisure fund
A new £100m National Leisure Recovery Fund has been launched by Sport England and is open to eligible local (parish and town) councils, following successful representations made to the government by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).
The fund aims to support publicly owned leisure facilities through the coronavirus crisis, and specifically help the reopening and recovery of the leisure service and prevent further closures of outsourced leisure trusts and operators.
Since the fund was first confirmed in October 2020, NALC has been pressing for this financial support to be available to local councils who provide leisure facilities either directly or indirectly as they are still excluded from recovering lost income through the government’s income compensation scheme.
While local councils cannot apply directly to the fund, their application must come from the eligible local authority with the local council identified as an outsourced operator to the local authority. The fund is open for applications from 14 December 2020 to 8 January 2021, with expressions of interest until 21 December 2020.
NALC chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter, said: “Financial support from the government to help the local government deal with the impact of the pandemic has so far failed to reach our most local councils. This new leisure fund is welcome and I am pleased the government has listened to our call for this to extend to local councils. But the government must go further and change course from encouraging principal councils to pass on government funding as this simply isn’t happening. I remain committed to working positively with the government to find a solution to helping those councils most impacted by the pandemic, particularly from lost income”.