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"The Perfect Storm" - key take-a-ways from Mike's BBC Radio 4 Interview on the Cost of Living Crisis

“The Perfect Storm” – key take-a-ways from Mike’s BBC Radio 4 Interview on the Cost of Living Crisis

Mike Hill, Director of Leisure-net returns to BBC Radio 4 to discuss the impact the cost of living crisis is having on physical activity and the leisure industry as a whole. Mike first appeared on the show last October as the cost of living crisis gathered momentum with operators either closing all or part of their facilities and members were having to choose where they spent their disposable income.

On the back of our Price Rise Sensitivity Research produced August 2022 and the combined results of the Moving Communities Community Survey (2021 and 2022), Mike explained how operators were in an ever-challenging landscape. Seven months on from the initial interview, Mike explains that the ongoing cost of living crisis combined with increases in energy and utility costs and operators (public and private) still feeling the aftermath of the pandemic, we are still in the perfect storm.

Key take-a-ways from Mike’s interview:

Still recovering from Covid:

  • Participation levels still not recovered
  • Swimming one of the few activities that has fully recovered
  • Other activities hovering at around 80% recovery
  • Older age groups at around 60% recovery

Energy Costs:

  • On average have double for operators
  • For some operators tripled
  • Starting to ease off but some operators are tied into high tariffs for some time

Pools in particular struggling:

  • We have lost over 400 pools in the last 12 years
  • Over half of our community pools are at risk of closure or cutting back of services

The Customers:

  • Need to communicate openly and honestly about challenges being faced
  • Be clear about what is being done to save costs and to address environmental concerns about carbon emissions


  • Needs to look at tools like business rates and VAT (only 8% in Ireland for leisure and health/fitness clubs)
  • But more importantly need a big view long term strategy putting our facilities at the centre of a national health strategy

You can catch the full interview on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme (Mike joins the conversation at 27mins 30 secs!)

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