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Reducing or eliminating entrance charges for the public use of leisure facilities can help increase physical activity.

About the study

Facility charges for use of  are likely to be a greater barrier to access for those who have lower incomes.

Many LAs are considering whether to invest ring-fenced public health budgets in leisure. This research study provides evidence to inform such decisions.

Working in collaboration with leisure and public health professionals in local authorities (LA) in the north west, LiLaC researchers evaluated the impact of variations in the pricing policies  of LA supported leisure facilities, including:

  • Concessionary schemes (e.g. for over 60s)
  • Universal and targeted free schemes
  • Differences in standard entrance prices

Both qualitative and quantitative methods were adopted in the study. This involved

  • Interviews with 33 public health and leisure professionals to scope different types of pricing policies and their underlying rationales
  • Quasi-experimental analysis of leisure system and national datasets to evaluate the impact of different pricing approaches
  • Interviews and focus groups with over 80 members of the public to hear their views about price  

The NIHR School for Public Health Research practitioner evaluation scheme funded the research.

Research outputs

This page will be updated as new publications are available. 

Research briefings and posters

The health inequalities impact of reducing the cost of local authority leisure facilities  Research briefing, march 2017

Evaluating the health inequalities impact of free access to leisure Poster, September 2017

Journal articles

E. Halliday, B. Barr, J. Higgerson, V. Holt, A. Ortiz-Nunez, F. Ward; Using local authority entrance charges to tackle inequalities in physical activity? A qualitative study of leisure and public health perspectives, Journal of Public Health

F Ward, E C Halliday, B Barr, J Higgerson, V Holt; Leisure centre entrance charges and physical activity participation in England, Health Promotion International, , dax095,

Higgerson JHalliday EOrtiz-Nunez A, Barr B, Impact of free access to leisure facilities and community outreach on inequalities in physical activity: a quasi-experimental study