100,000 gym staff may lose jobs without Government action, trade body warns

Around 2,800 gyms and other fitness sites could close by the middle of June unless the Government steps in with extra help, the industry’s trade body has warned.

Gyms and leisure centres are struggling to pay their rents and overhead fees, and are not collecting any money after having been forced to close by the Government in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

It means that about 100,000 jobs could be lost within the next 11 weeks, Ukactive said.

“Our nation’s gyms and leisure centres form the fabric of our society, as well as contributing £7.7bn to the economy annually and employing one of the most passionate and dedicated workforces in the world,” said Ukactive chief executive Huw Edwards.

He added: “If nothing is done and we say goodbye to our gyms and leisure centres it will have a devastating impact on our society when we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, at the precise time when these facilities will be needed desperately by people.”

The Government has promised to pay 80% of the salaries of workers who have been furloughed during the crisis, and pledged to back loans to help keep companies afloat.

However, Ukactive said that the Government must ensure that support reaches companies faster, and provide access to the jobs retention scheme in April.

It also asked for relief from utilities and help to ensure landlords feel less pressure from banks so they can support tenants better.

Otherwise cities and towns across the UK could lose out on a sector which provides £3.3 billion in social value every year through increasing health and wellbeing, according to Ukactive’s own figures.

“If our leisure facilities are lost, it will be incredibly difficult to rebuild them and any recovery will be extremely slow and painful,” Mr Edwards said.

He added: “Ukactive requires the Government to make the loans process faster and more accessible, to provide clear guidance to landlords on what they can do to support organisations in the sector, and to provide support on fixed business costs such and rates and utilities.”