Victoria Ward, Chief Executive of the Welsh Sports Association has responded to the announcement by Welsh Government that an additional £14 million will be made available to support the sport and leisure sector in Wales.
This brings the total fund to £38 million for public, private and not for profit sport and leisure providers throughout Wales.
“We welcome the Minister’s long-term commitment to support sport in Wales and appreciate his acknowledgment that physical activity is a critical part of our ability to build back better and emerge stronger from the pandemic.
“This is an evolving picture as we steer a path through the public health challenges that we all face but ensuring financial resilience, safeguarding jobs and protecting the health and well-being of our nation are our absolute priorities. Working together with Welsh Government and our member organisations, we are doing all that we can to prevent mass redundancies and build user confidence to secure stability for the long-term.
“Today’s announcement of £14 million is in addition to the existing hardship fund of £264 million, £24 million of which has been ring fenced for local authorities to support public leisure. It will be managed by Sport Wales and we are grateful to them for their help in securing the funding for our sector.
“The exact detail of this latest funding package will follow shortly but we have a responsibility as an industry to work together to uphold the regulations set by Welsh Government and ensure that all of the funding is distributed quickly and fairly to help save jobs and keep facilities open. The alternative is that we will see doors closing that will never open again and we therefore urge local authorities to act quickly to protect facilities that are at risk of imminent closure.
“The combined pot of £38 million means that we’ve now got a safety net through to March 2021 but let’s not forget that we’re not the only sector facing a cliff edge at the moment. The phasing out of the job retention scheme and the recent increases in cases in Covid-19 plus emergence of local lockdowns means that there are tough times ahead. Public confidence is key and that’s why we will continue to work with our members and the regulating bodies to ensure that we can find innovative and creative solutions that allow us to get events and classes going again in a safe and consistent way within the parameters of prevailing legislation. Clarity of messaging is key.”