Cut in Government public health grant to stop free swimming for over 50s
An extra cut in Government grant that Telford & Wrekin Council receives for its public health work is set to force the Council to stop free swimming next year at Council pools for residents over 50.
The cut to free swimming for over 50s is needed after the Government this summer announced further in-year cuts to councils’ public health budgets, which for Telford & Wrekin is thought to be equivalent to almost £775,000.
A report to the Council’s cabinet recommends that it stops free swimming for over 50s from January. Free swimming for under-16s will continue. So far this year just over 3,000 people over 50 have taken up the Council's free swim offer. This shows that the numbers of over 50s swimming at Council pools has already gone up by just 50% since the start of the free swim this April.
From January, residents over 50 with a Telford Loyalty Card (TLC) will be charged £3.65, £1.10 less than the cost of a standard swim. Residents over 50 in receipt of a range of benefits may be entitled to a Concessionary Telford Loyalty Card that would allow them to swim for just £1 a time. To find out if they qualify for a Concessionary card, residents are asked to contact their nearest Telford & Wrekin Council Leisure Centre.
Cllr Richard Overton, cabinet member with for Public Health, said: “Offering free swimming to over 50s was an important part of our initiatives to help keep our residents fit, active and healthy and we hope needing fewer health services.
“Sadly our Government funding continues to be cut. On top of £80 million we’ve already taken out of services since 2010, we must make another £33 million of cuts over the next three years.
“The additional and unbudgeted in-year public health cut on top of this, sadly forces us to withdraw free swimming for over 50s to help make up this shortfall.
“At a time when the NHS locally is struggling to make ends meet, Government chooses to target public health which can have such a positive effect on reducing demand for NHS services and treatment.
“I hope that many of the people who have made the most of our free swimming for over 50s will continue to use the value offered by TLC or by aspirations gym membership scheme, which includes free swimming.”
The proposals will be discussed when the Council’s cabinet meets on 12 November.