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Tax breaks and 'Workout from Work' scheme would power rebound of gym sector

By Tom Walker    22 Jul 2020
The call for a VAT cut and further financial support scomes just days before gyms and health clubs in England can reopen their doors / Shutterstock.com/Syda Productions

The UK's industry's leading trade associations have united to call for a major review of taxation and regulation to help operators rebound from the lockdown.

Following the Chancellor’s "mini-budget" statement earlier this month – which did not include any specific measures to help the sector, Community Leisure UK, ukactive and CIMSPA are demanding more investment to help operators recover.

The call comes just days before gyms and health clubs in England can reopen their doors (on 25 July).

Among the measures called for by ukactive are the cutting of VAT – in line with the measures offered to the hospitality and tourism sectors – and an extension to the current business rate holiday beyond March 2021.

Other specific relief measures floated include a "Workout from Work" scheme, which would see the Cycle to Work initiative extended to offer a wider array of opportunities and equipment – including fitness trackers and gym memberships.

When looking at the leisure trusts market, UK Community Leisure has also launched a #saveleisure campaign, highlighting fears that nearly half of all public leisure facilities in the UK could face permanent closure by the end of the year, unless local authorities receive urgent ring-fenced funding from the government.

Mark Tweedie, CEO of Community Leisure UK, said: "While leisure providers have worked very hard to ready facilities for safe reopening we want to make the public and our stakeholders fully aware that the nation’s cherished public leisure services remain at risk, because many local authorities will not be capable of financially sustaining them without specific government financial support which we have requested.

"Communities without leisure centres are unimaginable, so we are reaching out to everyone to unite behind our #saveleisure campaign for specific fixed term Government support to save our leisure facilities and community services.”

Tara Dillon, chief executive of CIMSPA said: "Leisure is a sector that creates enormous economic, health, social and community benefits, but it is one of the last to reopen.

"This has created huge financial challenges and we urge the Government to provide this additional targeted financial support to protect these public leisure facilities which are at serious risk of closure."

Community Leisure UK  ukactive  CIMSPA  physical activity  COVID-19 
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