Association of British Climbing Walls to give evidence in DCMS inquiry

The Association of British Climbing Walls (ABC – the trade body representing nearly 200 walls in the UK) will be representing the climbing sector, and providing evidence for DCMS of how sport specific facilities are faring in Covid. The inquiry’s purpose is to “identify specific actions the Government can take to guarantee the future survival of the community sports sector”.

In truth many sport facilities, including climbing walls, are really suffering financially and don’t know when they’re going to be able to reopen. The Covid restrictions have hit the indoor sports sector particularly hard and there is a real fear that some walls will go under before this is all over, indeed some already have.

We need the government to support grassroot sports, to help mitigate the financial pain points and to reactivate the industry; to get the participants back when the time is right. We need people to know when that time has come so they can support their local climbing wall by getting back to activity and reap the physical and mental health benefits they enjoyed before Covid.

Climbing was a thriving, growing activity pre-Covid and is set to be in the Olympics for the first time this year; an exciting adventurous sport on the international stage. We need to ensure the infrastructure is still in place to welcome the new generation of potential climbers who will be inspired to try it out; the next generation of potential Olympians, mountaineers or simply enthusiastic amateur climbers.

The DCMS Session:
Rich Emerson (ABC Board Director and former Chair) will be witness for the ABC and will be asking the government to look at measures such as:

• Write off the VAT deferred from last March
• Extend and backdate the 5% VAT rate given to the Hospitality sector
• Extend the Business Rates Holiday, ensuring that low revenue businesses housed in high square meterage buildings are covered
• Ensure that Sport England has the bandwidth and resources to engage in major promotional activities immediately that restrictions are lifted to encourage customers to return to physical activity and to support the sport when the Olympics happens
• Lift capacity caps on our businesses as soon as it is safe to do so, acknowledging the very low risk our centres pose

The session will be live streamed and can be watched here.
You can find out more about the inquiry here.
You can view the full Committee membership here.

The BMC is supporting the ABC in their work to support climbing walls.

Paul Davies, BMC CEO, said: “As has been the case across the whole indoor sport and leisure sector, climbing walls have been hit hard by the need to close in response to the pandemic. With many walls now being pushed closer than ever to financial breaking point, it is our hope that the government will be able to extend additional support to help secure the future of the indoor climbing industry.

“Places for people to exercise and train will be more important than ever when the pandemic starts to ease, and we must make sure that indoor walls are there for people to return to. Assistance now, through things such as extending business rate holidays and matching the reduction in VAT extended to the hospitality sector, will greatly improve the ability of the sector to survive and be in a position to provide these facilities for when they are most needed.”
Kath Hipwell, Association of British Climbing Walls CEO, said:
“Before Covid indoor climbing was a thriving growth sport; brilliant for both body and mind and set to appear for the first time at the Tokyo Olympics. Climbing walls themselves are amazing at creating a sense of community and belonging. Whether a passionate climber for decades or first inspired to try it by the climbers’ feats at the Olympics, we will all need these special places, and essential infrastructure, more than ever in the months ahead. We need the government to support walls to stay open, to allow people to thrive again.”

Notes to editors
• For further information please contact: Kath Hipwell, Chief Exec ABC kath@abcwalls.co.uk 07786 838274
• The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) is the national representative body for climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers in England and Wales and is recognised as such by government. The BMC is committed to promoting the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers and good practice in all activities related to these pursuits. www.thebmc.co.uk
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