Senedd debates impact of increasing costs on sport and leisure

On Wednesday, the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee’s ‘Increasing Costs – Impact on Culture and Sport’ report was debated in the Senedd. 

Large parts of the sport and leisure sector is under existential challenges due to the cost-of-living crisis, with a vicious circle – as Tom Giffard MS later quoted from the report, a “lack of public confidence and cash” means less revenue for facilities, who subsequently struggle to keep their doors open – posing threats of permanent closures, as outlined Chair of the Committee, Delyth Jewell MS. 

Just after the turn of the year, Welsh Government published its response to the report, accepting eight of the Committee’s recommendations but rejecting two.  

Taking to the floor, Committee members and other Members of Senedd outlined the importance of this report and debate, noting the issues facing such a vital sector that provides not just essential opportunities for individuals to lead healthy lifestyles but critical services that contribute preventative health agendas. 

The likes of Tom Giffard MS, Alun Davies MS and Heledd Fychan MS – all Committee members – referenced the Government’s response to the report and questioned the rejection of recommendations six and ten. 

Tom Giffard implored Welsh Government to be more activist and make efforts to open dialogue and collaborate with both UK Government and within Wales with other sector; Alun Davies pointed out the vital necessity of equality between regions in Wales, suggesting that tailored support for individuals to access the non-statutory services that are so important in communities is crucial in keeping the sector prosperous; and Heledd Fychan drew upon both of these points as well as taking into account the geographical element that represents a barrier to many across Wales, urging Welsh Government to take action in order for future generations to enjoy equal access. 

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden MS, subsequently took to the stand and clarified Welsh Government’s position on the rejected recommendations.  

“On recommendation six, the call for a UK-wide support package for the culture and sport sectors, as we’ve said, this is a matter wholly for the UK Government,” Dawn Bowden summarised. 

“The other recommendation that we didn’t accept was recommendation ten, that the Welsh Government improves its engagement with the culture sector. Now, we have an exemplar record in terms of engagement with our sectors,” she stated.  

“We work closely and collaboratively with both sector bodies and individual organisations to monitor and understand the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, and this is being developed further through our work on the new culture strategy. Accepting this recommendation would have been contradictory, therefore, as it would have been accepting that we weren’t doing what we clearly are in this area.” 

As well as providing evidence for this Committee report, the Welsh Sports Association (WSA) aim to be leading advocates for sufficient support for the sport and leisure sector. 

Addressing Welsh Government’s acceptance of recommendation two of the report, Dawn Bowden referenced her department’s work with the WSA: 

“The energy bill relief scheme is a UK Government initiative, and we’ve already made representations to the UK Government around including intensive users, such as swimming pools, within the highest threshold for support. We’re working closely with Sport Wales, with the Welsh Sports Association and Swim Wales to continue to make that case, because if prices go up, businesses will have to pay the additional costs.” 

In closing, the Deputy Minster said: 

“We are taking immediate steps across a number of areas to address the complex issues that have been raised by this report, and we’ll seek to implement these recommendations that we’ve accepted with the importance that they deserve, supporting our collective efforts to respond to the cost-of-living and energy crisis, and we will continue to engage with the UK Government and press it to use the levers at its disposal to provide wider support to the culture and sports sectors.” 

As mentioned, the WSA are striving to state the case for sport and leisure’s immediate need for additional support. We are delighted that the Welsh Government has committed to supporting call for energy bill support for swimming pools. We will continue to monitor and engage with Welsh Government and the Senedd in order to make the case and to keep our members as updated and aware as possible regarding the issues that are pertinent to them.

The WSA also offers services that can support facilities amid the incredibly challenging financial landscape that currently threatens the sector. Our Procurement Portal, for example, has already supported grassroots clubs with their energy costs to great effect.

We will also continue to host sector calls to address the situation, having delivered the first recently. Please get in contact with the WSA team if you didn’t receive an invitation to the last but would like to attend the next.

Share This

Our Partners

Scroll to Top
Non-Executive Director and Senior Leadership Training