Groups fear government is seizing control of National Lottery money

Voluntary organisations fear for their future because the
government is using National Lottery cash instead of taxes to fund
mainstream services.

Ten years after the lottery was launched there are concerns in the
sector that its original aim – to give money to good causes
including art and heritage – is being eroded.

Critics have warned that cash is being spent on health and
education, while many small voluntary groups delivering vital
services separate from government objectives are in danger of
losing funding.

Research commissioned by lottery operator Camelot shows the game
has raised £16bn and has been a “major catalyst for hundreds
of millions of pounds worth of regeneration investment”.

But fears persist that the merger of the Community Fund with the
New Opportunities Fund to create the Big Lottery Fund could see
money diverted away from the voluntary sector and towards
government priorities.

The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
reacted angrily after the government appeared to ignore its
consultation on the Big Lottery Fund by announcing its key themes
before the public consultation ended in September. These include
community learning, promoting community safety and promoting

The association’s head of policy and communications, Nick Aldridge,
described some “worrying” recent developments about the lottery
that were “fuelling suspicion” that the government was starting to
take control of lottery money.

He said a letter sent by culture minister Tessa Jowell in August
stated that the Big Lottery Fund would no longer include the open
grants programme that had existed under the Community Fund. This
allowed charities to apply for large sums of money for a wider
range of work.

On BBC1’s Breakfast with Frost, former prime minister John Major,
who launched the lottery, accused the government of “grand larceny”
by siphoning off funds for its own priorities.

A spokesperson for the government insisted lottery money was being
spent in accordance with the public’s wishes.

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