- Access to heated swimming pools in the UK is under threat due to rising energy costs, according to a survey of pool operators.
- This comes amid a broader cost-of-living crisis in the UK.
- Measures being considered to cut costs include colder water and restricted showers.
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Hundreds of public heated swimming pools in the UK may have to restrict their services or even close their doors to the public this summer due to the rising cost of heating the water, according to figures from ukactive, a not-for-profit industry association of gyms and leisure centres.
The UK is currently battling a cost of living crisis amid soaring energy prices. The latter has increased the cost of heating Britain's swimming pools from $632 million (£500 million) in 2019 to $1.58 billion (£1.25 billion) in 2022. ukactive first raised concerns with the government over the rise in costs in March.
Heated public swimming pools are widely used in the UK and typically run by leisure facilities. The leisure sector plays an important role in public health nationwide with the industry estimated to save the National Health Service around half a billion pounds a year, according to The Telegraph.
More than three-quarters of public leisure facilities said they may have to close due to this financial strain over the next six months, according to ukactive's nationwide survey of nearly a third of the UK's public pool operators.
Leisure facilities are looking to cut operating costs through measures such as colder water, reduced opening hours, and limited showers.
Eight in ten leisure facilities also said they would have to increase their prices to cope with the new costs. Just under two-thirds said they will likely be forced to let go of staff, according to ukactive's survey.
Ben Beevers, group development director of Everyone Active, a UK chain of leisure facilities, told The Telegraph: "We are facing a significant increase in energy costs, an issue impacting the whole country, with energy costs currently two to three times higher than the levels we were paying in 2019/20.
"This is particularly significant for our industry due to the energy usage, particularly in swimming pools, and the volume of people that use our facilities to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing."
He said the chain had already introduced energy-saving measures such as LED lighting, variable speed drives, and swimming pool covers, targeting a 10 percent reduction in energy use between April 2022 and April 2023.
This comes amid broader challenges for the UK economy, with inflation climbing to a 40-year high. The government last week announced that households would receive a discount on energy prices from October, as part of a £15 billion package to help with cost of living increases.