The popular SwindonCard, which entitles holders to a range of discounts for leisure activities and sports at council facilities, is changing from 7 May.
The new card will be known as the Leisure in Swindon card and is designed to make discounts simpler to understand, encourage more families to be active, and boost usage of council leisure services. It is also being altered to reflect national changes to the benefits system which are planned for the autumn.
At present there are around 34,000 SwindonCards in circulation which entitle adults aged between 19 and 59 to discounts on the standard price for council leisure activities. They also offer a variety of concessions for particular groups of users, such as juniors, the over-60s and those on means-tested benefits.
Existing SwindonCards will still be valid from Tuesday 7 May, but entitlements for some holders may have changed. The new look Leisure in Swindon cards will be issued to applicants after that date.
The key changes are:
The annual fee for the new card is being reduced to £10, down from £15.50 for adult Swindon residents and £31 for non-residents.
A family of up to four people will be able to get a family deal for £15, less than the current single adult rate, and there will be new family prices available for popular activities such as ice-skating, swimming, and pitch and putt.
Customers without a card will continue to pay full price for activities, which is typically 25% more than a cardholder pays.
The new card will have one concession level, not two. In future, juniors (aged between 3 and 18), anyone over 60, full-time students, and people on Universal Credit or Incapacity Benefit will all receive a further 25% discount on prices at off-peak times, and a 50% discount on swimming at all times.
This replaces the current two-tier concession system, where juniors, over-60s and full-time students received up to 50% discount on standard prices at off-peak times (Concession 1), and over-75s and adults on means-tested benefits received up to 70% discount at off-peak times (Concession 2).
New, lower-price monthly payment options will be available for regular users who mainly use only one or two activities, although an all-inclusive package, to which approximately 5,000 residents already subscribe, will still be available under the revised membership scheme.
The new card will no longer entitle holders to discounts on non-leisure activities, such as bulky waste collections, pest control services and allotments.
The SwindonCard was introduced ten years ago, in January 2003, and has not changed greatly since. The vast majority of current SwindonCard holders, who are mainly adults who do not come into any of the concession categories, will not see a change in their entitlements under the new system. Only a fifth of cardholders qualify under the current system for the maximum 70% discount.
Cllr Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council Cabinet member for Leisure and Strategic Transport, said: “We want to encourage more people to use our leisure facilities as it’s in everyone’s interests to remain fit and healthy for as long as possible.
“There’s also no hiding from the fact that we are facing very difficult times financially, and we have to try and increase our income and reduce the subsidy we pay for providing our leisure facilities.
“Inevitably there will be winners and losers under the new scheme, but we have tried to minimise the impact on those groups whose concessions are reducing, while at the same time provide a more attractive offer for families.
“The new pricing structure will be much simpler to understand, and will be more in line with what other local authorities provide.”