A survey by the IPF, the trading arm of CIPFA, has found that the costs to users of leisure and recreation facilities is on the increase, while net expenditure on leisure facilities by local authorities is being reduced.
The annual statistical survey Charges for Leisure Services 1997-98 shows that councils in England and Wales are planning to reduce net spending on swimming pools, sports and physical recreation centres to£533m this year, a reduction of£13m. The survey outlines significant increases in entry charges, to users of leisure and recreation facilities, when compared to the index of retail prices. These increases seem to have been one of the ways in which local authorities have sought to constrain their recreation service budgets this year.
For instance, since 1990, when retail prices have risen by 25%:
-- pitch and putt for a junior player has more than doubled to£1.20 per game
-- Senior citizen and junior swimming charges have nearly doubled to£1 per session
-- an adult seven day season ticket for golf has nearly doubled to£287.50 per annum
The survey identifies an enormous range in the ticket prices and entry fees for council leisure facilities and activities reflecting the diversity in types of facility. To an extent local authorities will have different policies for subsidising users for their amenities.
Commenting on the survey's findings, Phillip Ramsdale, of the Institute of Public Finance, said:
'The steady trend in increased charges probably reflects the further value users put on the facilities as well as a more commercial approach that local authorities' are taking to their operation.'
-- Tables summarising the charges by broad area/type of authority are available from LGCnet. Tel 0171 833 7324/5.
-- A more detailed report on local authority spending on leisure services will be published next month.