Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Second Report


4. Swimming, and its wide variety of disciplines, is the nation's most popular physical sporting activity, with nearly 12 million people swimming regularly, and an estimated 80 million visits to public sector pools a year. Swimming is the most popular sport for girls, and the second most popular for boys, with 50 per cent of children regularly participating.[2]

5. The key challenge of maintaining the high levels of participation, of both adults and children, in swimming is the cost of providing the pools, which are among the most expensive and complex indoor sports buildings both to build and maintain.[3] Research undertaken by Sport England has shown that 60 per cent of pools available for community use are now between 20 and 40 years old and will soon require modernisation or refurbishment. Sport England estimated that out of the £10 billion needed to modernise sports halls and swimming pools facilities, the cost for swimming pools alone is approximately £2billion .[4] The Local Government Association (LGA) estimated that to achieve the modernisation of public pools a capital investment of £120m per annum over the next 15 years is required.[5]

6. The funding for public sector pools comes from various sources. The Local Government Association estimated that net expenditure by local authorities on swimming facilities and provision is around £375million per annum, out of a total of £70 billion a year spent by local authorities in total on services.[6] For the year 2001-2002, out of a total budget of roughly £1 billion, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport will provide £66.6 million to Sport in comparison to £360.7 million for Museums and Galleries and £252.6 million to the Arts.[7] In 2000-2001, Sport England provided lottery funding to swimming and diving of £22 million.[8]

7. The second challenge is the pattern of provision and the availability of facilities for the differing needs of the community. The sport of swimming covers various disciplines which impose different requirements on the facility. Learners need shallow water. Water polo, diving and synchronised swimming need deep water. Competitive swimmers need to train in 50 metre pools. Those swimming for fitness favour lane swimming. Children need room in which to splash around and have fun; wave machines, slides and flumes are very popular. Sport England stated in their memorandum that there is a limited need for additional water space,[9] and yet we received evidence that pools are struggling to meet the needs of their wide variety of users. In particular, there is a manifest paucity of 50 metre competition class pools.

2   Ev 43, Ev 72, Q 40, Ev 47 Back

3   Ev 46 Back

4   Ev 47-48 Back

5   Ev 72 Back

6   Ev 71-72. The total income to local authorities for sports halls and pools is £202 million, figures provided by the Local Government Association for the year 2000-2001. Back

7   DCMS Annual Report, 2001, p 90. The breakdown for Sport, provided by DCMS, includes £43.2m grant in aid for Sport England and £17m grant in aid for UK Sport. Back

8   Breakdown, provided by DCMS, of the funding for swimming: In 2000/2001 Sport England provided £330,000 Exchequer funding to Swimming & Diving, £22,011,430 from the Capital Lottery funding to Swimming & Diving, £1,291,442 Total World Class programme award to swimming, £79,681 Total World Class athlete award for Swimming, £19,968 to Total World Class programme award to disability swimming , £10,000 to Total World Class athlete award for disability swimming. In 2000/2001 UK Sport provided Exchequer Funding of £170,000, and Lottery Funding of £590,000 for the Swimming World Class Performance Programme 1/10/00-31/03/01; £330,000 for the Disability World Class Performance Programme 1/10/00-31/03/01* and £102,000 for the Diving World Class Performance Programme 1/10/00-31/03/01*. * Note: Before 1/10/00 there was no Lottery funding for diving or disability swimming from UK Sport, funding for swimming came from Sport England as part of the UK Performance funding totalling £4,753,989, from 01/05/97 to 30/09/00. Back

9   Ev 47 Back

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Prepared 15 January 2002