William Eichler 23 December 2021

Omission of gyms from Omicron relief criticised as ‘shameful’

Omission of gyms from Omicron relief criticised as ‘shameful’ image

The industry association representing gyms and sports centres has criticised the Government for omitting their members from the latest COVID support measures.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Tuesday £1bn in support for businesses most impacted by Omicron, which included a £102m top up for the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).

In response, the CEO of ukactive Huw Edwards said that gyms, pools, and leisure centres were left out of the support, a decision he described as ‘shameful’.

‘It will lead to businesses that support the health and wellbeing of communities going to the wall,’ he said.

‘It is ignorant of all the evidence provided to the Government on the damaging impact of the existing Plan B measures to these facilities.

‘We will work alongside our members and partners to reverse this omission and ensure our members are fully supported and protected, alongside additional support required, such as VAT relief in line with other sectors, furlough support, and extensions to business rates relief and the National Leisure Recovery Fund.’

A HM Treasury spokesperson said that gyms and sports centres would be supported by local authorities through the ARG.

‘We understand gyms and sports centres may be impacted by Omicron, which is why we announced £100 million in additional grants funding yesterday for councils to distribute to businesses most in need in their areas,’ they said.

‘This takes the total amount of available unspent grants funding to £350m, and comes on top of 75% business rates relief over the year, the recovery loan scheme, Time to Pay and the reintroduced Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.’

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