The coalition government has said that it will be axing free swimming for under 16 and over 60 year olds in England as part of its wider drive to bring down Britain's budget deficit.

The previous Labour government introduced the scheme last April and was due to run until March 2011. The idea was initially introduced in a move to promote fitness amongst the population, especially for those on lower incomes.

However the scheme was found to be of limited use in promoting swimming as 83 per cent of the people who enjoyed free swimming in the scheme's first year would have gone even if they had to pay.

The government claims that by stopping the scheme on 31 July £40 million will be saved from the £140 million cost of the programme.