Update to the Energy Bill Relief scheme from UK Government
The UK Government issued an update on their support with energy bills on Monday, confirming that it will scale back aid at the end of March for the following financial year (2023-24).
Under the new Energy Bills Discount scheme, the Chancellor announced that subsidies until the end of March 2024 would equate to £5.5bn, having previously described the current relief scheme as “unsustainably expensive”.
Among a revised, smaller list of heavy energy-using industries eligible to the new scheme, however, leisure does not feature, painting an even starker picture for the sector over the next 12 months and beyond.
UKactive have suggested that 74% of council areas across the country are classified as unsecure under the Government’s current support scheme – meaning risks of closures and reduced services from leisure facilities – so, with wholesale gas prices at three to four times more expensive than their long-term average, 2023-24 looks bleak.
Councillor David Renard, energy spokesman for the Local Government Association, and Huw Edwards, Ukactive CEO, have both already called upon the UK Government to review the decision.
Meanwhile, our strategic partners Community Leisure UK have also outlined the potentially severe impact of this announcement and have called upon a review on the part of UK Government.
Before Christmas, Community Leisure UK reported that up to 82% of leisure operators in Wales are in, or on the brink of, crisis. Without additional support from Government we expect the medium-term picture for leisure term facilities to be difficult.
The Chancellor’s announcement comes after the Welsh Government recently confirmed its commitment to supporting the sport and leisure industry in Wales, as Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden MS responded to a Senedd report into the impact of increasing costs on the sector.
This commitment, however, has not yet been translated into immediate financial support.
As part of its Draft Budget for 2023-24, however, Welsh Government has outlined fresh support with non-domestic rates as well as increased support to local authorities and all five of Wales’ culture and sport arms length bodies.
The Welsh Sports Association will continue to call on the UK Government and Welsh Government to support the sector over and above the limited funds already announced.
We will also continue to monitor Welsh Government and Senedd business as well as engage with Members of the Senedd in order to keep our members as updated and aware as possible regarding the issues that are pertinent to them.