Swimming pools and leisure centres across the country have been offered help by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his budget - partly thanks to Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter.

Jeremy Hunt announced in his statement that he would be offering high-energy using centres support with their bills - there had been concerns that the energy price hike could force some to close or reduce their hours.

Mr Hunt said he made the concession after being lobbied by several MPs, including the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich member.

He said he would provide a £63 million fund to “keep our public leisure centres and pools afloat” in response to high costs and £100 million will be given to support thousands of charities and community organisations.

Dr Poulter said he had raised the issue after discussing the problems of funding leisure facilities with East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant.

He said: "Swimming pools and leisure centres are very important to communities all over the country and after hearing of their problems I spoke to the Chancellor to pass on the fears that their operators have.

The news was welcomed by many operators - but there remain concerns from private-sector operators.

East Anglian Daily Times: Riverhills MD Dave Courteen. Pictures: RiverhillsRiverhills MD Dave Courteen. Pictures: Riverhills (Image: Riverhills)

Dave Courteen, managing director of Riverhills Health Club and Spa in Bramford, near Ipswich, said: “It is pleasing to see the Government has committed to supporting publicly-owned leisure centres.

"But where is the support for the approximately two/thirds of centres which are privately-run?

“The £63 million funding will prove to be a lifeline to many centres which would have struggled to survive without support, but the support doesn’t go far enough and still leaves a lot of privately-run facilities at risk of closure.

“We have taken a massive hit with regards to utility bills. In some cases they have been 200% higher than normal.”