Iain Gray MSP and Martin Whitfield are backing a call from local government leaders for the SNP Government to meet a shortfall in funding for leisure services.

They are supporting the call from COSLA after council leaders highlighted that local government run leisure budgets suffered losses of £227m during the first six months of 2020.

The loss was incurred due to Covid restrictions on council run leisure services, such as swimming pools, sports centres and theatres which are now under severe financial pressure.

However, the Scottish Government has so far made just £90million available to cover the shortfall in funding.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Across Scotland, there is a shortfall of well over 50 per cent of what is needed to cover the losses incurred by leisure services at the height of the pandemic. The SNP Government’s refusal to cover these losses means that council run leisure services are facing an unprecedented crisis.

“As with the rest of the country, our local sports and arts facilities have had to close for long periods, resulting in a dramatic fall in income. I know East Lothian Council will do everything it can to maintain these services locally, but unless ministers agree to a more generous settlement, swimming pools, sports centres and local theatres will inevitably be under significant financial pressure.”

Martin Whitfield said:

“Our leisure facilities are at the heart of local communities, providing essential services to support our physical and mental wellbeing. When we emerge from this pandemic, sport and the arts will be critical for people and communities traumatised by Covid.

“It would be a dereliction of duty to leave councils so short of funds for their leisure budgets, that key services are potentially lost forever. SNP ministers must agree to fund the shortfall incurred by this sector during Covid and rescue vital local leisure services.”   

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