Nick Brown MP MP for Newcastle upon Tyne East
I welcome that, under pressure from the Labour Party, the Government announced a support fund of £110m for local authority leisure centres. Local authorities are central to the provision of affordable leisure and exercise facilities. I understand £210 million is also being provided for Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund to support community gyms and exercise centres. The Shadow Chancellor has consistently questioned the Chancellor over his track record on business support for the likes of small gyms, given the importance they will have for exercise during the winter months. Exercise has been shown to be an important part of maintaining good mental health. Recent studies point to an increase in mental health disorders of 8.1% at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with women and young people being worst affected. The Health Foundation reported that whilst mental health symptoms began to alleviate in many over summer following the lifting of the lockdown, these remained high in young people, low income households, and people with diagnosed mental illness. It is encouraging to hear that gyms and leisure centres will be able to remain open in all tiers of the new coronavirus alert levels. I also welcome the reopening of grassroots sport.