Leisure aleos face financial ruin

Gym

Body warns many won't survive prolonged lockdown as pools and gyms remain closed 

11th August 2020 by Robert Armour 2 Comments

Aleos, the arms-length charitable trusts which run leisure services for councils, are in a perilous financial position with many facing closure.

Many aleos, if not all, across Scotland have had no income since they were forced to close when lockdown was introduced in March.

They run council gyms and swimming pools as well as hosting fitness classes, all of which were among the first casualties of lockdown.

Swimming pools and indoor sports courts are not scheduled to reopen until 14 September.  

The chairman of Community Leisure UK, the umbrella body for sports aleos across the UK, said the country’s leisure trusts could go bust.

Robin Strang warned: "The resulting loss in income has placed many trusts in a financially perilous position, with the very existence of many at imminent threat."

A recent survey by Community Leisure UK found 38% of members will be non-viable or in an insecure position by the end of the year, growing to 70% inside 12 months.

It also reveals 450 contracted and casual staff have already been made redundant or planned for redundancy.

And it forecasts more than 4,500 jobs are at risk, with those aged 18-34 most affected.

June Peebles, chief executive of Edinburgh Leisure, said: "Public leisure facilities throughout Scotland are facing huge financial challenges and it's fair to say that we are in crisis.

"Without financial support it is leaving swimming pools, gyms, libraries throughout the country just not viable and they are such vital public services.

"More than ever at the moment good health and wellbeing is so important and that's what we deliver."

A Cosla spokesman said: "This is a confidential letter that was only sent to the Cosla president on Friday and we will respond to it in person rather than via the media.

"What I can say is that Cosla is in detailed discussions with the Scottish Government in relation to the costs to the whole of local government as a result of Covid and the huge impact that is being felt across all of the services that we deliver both ourselves and with partners to communities across Scotland."

Aleos have proven unpopular with campaigners believing they should not be allowed charity status as they are run by local authorities and are effectively an arm of the public sector.

The Barclay Review of Business Rates in 2017 said that leisure centres, some golf clubs, private schools and universities should pay business rates like their private sector counterparts, rather than enjoy exemptions under charitable status. 

11th August 2020 by Pat Stewart

But aleos were such a good idea when they were set up...they would save the Councils and provide better services for communities. Maybe that has to be rethought...

13th August 2020 by Michael

Tip of the iceberg.