Leisure services and consequential funding debated in Senedd 

Leisure services and consequential funding debated in Senedd 

The Local Government and Housing Committee Report, ‘Local Authority Library and Leisure Services’, was debated in the Senedd on Wednesday 18 October, with Members discussing the consequential funding that Welsh Government received following the £63m support package that was announced for swimming pools in England earlier this year. 

The Welsh Sports Association (WSA), alongside our member Swim Wales and partner Community Leisure UK, provided evidence to the Committee during their inquiry, as Sam Rowlands MS pointed out. 

“[The role of public community facilities in the preventative agenda] has again been backed up by … Swim Wales, Community Leisure UK and the Welsh Sports Association.” 

The WSA welcomed the publication of the Committee’s report, with concern at the crisis surrounding community leisure services, in particular swimming pools, a small number of which have endured temporary closures in recent months in Wales. 

Find the full report here and the Welsh Government’s response here.  

Within its recommendations within the report, the Committee recommended that the “Welsh Government allocates the £3.5m of consequential from the UK Government’s energy support package to swimming pools”, while also “(endorsing) the recommendation of the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations Committee that the Welsh Government should provide additional targeted funding to the sports and culture sectors to help venues and organisations that face closure.”  

In response to the debate, however, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden MS stated: 

“To deal specifically with the UK Government swimming pools support, and the use of consequentials in Wales, as I said in committee, this £3.5 million was split—£1.2 million revenue and £2.3 million capital—and that would amount to no more than approximately £10,000 for each swimming pool in Wales to deal with their immediate energy costs. That is actually less than what is needed for many, for one month’s fuel bills.  

“Now, an important principle of devolution is that consequential funding is not necessarily ring-fenced for the same purpose for which it was allocated by the UK Government,” she continued.  

“So, we took a strategic decision that this would not be effective and our efforts would be better spent on supporting pools and leisure centres to manage energy efficiency in the longer term, through schemes like the Welsh Government energy service, which is a key enabler in providing technical and financial help to the public sector, to deliver on the collective ambition of a net-zero public sector by 2030, and which would supplement anything that the local authorities were doing to support leisure services through their budget settlement.” 

The Deputy Minister also confirmed that Welsh Government has “agreed with the chief leisure officers of Wales group that we will undertake a rapid review of the provision of leisure, the state of the leisure estate, and how it interacts with other public services via a small group of representatives across Wales”. Further details of this group will emerge in due course. 

Find the full debate and the Deputy Minister’s response in Plenary here.  

The provision of affordable and safe sport, physical activity and leisure in our communities is key to Wales’ ongoing wellbeing and international visibility. Without the infrastructure on our doorstep, it is harder for all of us to enjoy the benefits of regular exercise, pressures will mount on other public services, and we will miss out on future sporting talent.  

The sport and leisure sector has made substantial investment in decarbonisation over recent years. However, with the squeeze on energy prices, our legal commitment to net zero, and swimming pools’ high energy consumption, we need Government support to get us over the final hurdle.  

The WSA will continue to work with Welsh Government, Sport Wales and the Senedd to advocate on behalf of the breadth of our membership base and state the case for investment in the sport and leisure sector, at a time when the sector faces unprecedented challenges.  

Don’t hesitate in getting in contact with the WSA team should you have any questions, and to find out how our services can support you amid current challenges. 

Share This

Our Partners

Scroll to Top