Joint working by the regional swimming pools could deliver a greater cost benefit, a report to this month’s Tynwald sitting concludes.

A report into the affordability of the regional pools published in January found the Department of Education, Sport and Culture was unable to sustain the required funding for all three pools if the current operating model continued.

But it was reprieved when Treasury agreed extra funding.

Now an update to Tynwald has outlined a suggested way forward.

It recommends that the DESC should work collaboratively with the regional pool boards to ‘understand how joint working may deliver a greater cost benefit.

The report says a service level agreement should be created to support a standardised operating model.

Treasury has agreed extra funding to support the three regional swimming pools at the existing levels of subvention until March 2025, with an option to continue to March 2026.

Government has made a firm commitment to include a new sports facility and swimming pool as part of the Castle Rushen High School development.

The Southern Pool board has ‘refined its cost requirements’ and accepts any significant deterioration of the existing facility may mean closure in the future, the updated report notes.

Each regional pool receives a different level of subvention from DESC in an historical arrangement for which it is not known how the amount allocated has been calculated, the earlier report revealed.

The Northern pool in Ramsey receives £798,600, including loan costs and £411,069 revenue, the Western pool in Peel gets £515,000 including loan costs and £345,000 revenue, and the Southern pool receives £434,004.

In addition, the pools receive funding from the rates collected in their respective local authorities, amounting to £92,746.

In March 2022, Treasury agreed to temporarily underwrite costs that could not be funded within the regional pools’ existing budget.

This totalled £221,000 over 12 months. Financial analysis of the audited accounts of the three regional pools showed ‘inconsistencies that need to be understood’, says the update report, and indicates possible improvements that could be made.

It adds: ‘In light of this, DESC will work collaboratively with the regional pool boards to understand how joint working may deliver a greater cost benefit, and support an element to standardisation across the services currently being delivered.

‘A service level agreement will be co-constructed to equalise, as far as possible, provision across the island, with a view to aligning services to an agreed operating model.

‘There is an opportunity to involve external expertise to assist in the development of this operating model if required.’

An update will be provided to CoMin by September.