Hands off George!- Threat to Lottery Grants

November 22, 2015

savebiglotteryWhat we know

A campaign has been launched called “Save the Big Lottery Fund” that claimed a £320m diversion of BLF funds was going to be announced in the Autumn Statement to compensate for forthcoming cuts to the arts and sports sectors.

Why it matters – the big and the small

Charities benefit from funding from all of the Lottery distributors, but the Big Lottery Fund is – as its name suggests – the biggest. It’s funding is worth around £500m a year, of which 95% goes to voluntary organisations. This makes it the single largest funder of the voluntary sector in the UK.

Despite its name, the other important thing to note is that BLF’s grants are primarily small. 90% of its grants are for less than £10k. This vital source of funds for small organisations enables people to come together in support of their communities and deliver projects that make a real difference.

The arts, heritage and sports distributors make a valuable contribution to our communities and national life. The government it is rumoured are looking to mitigate the worst impact of potential DCMS cuts. But using Lottery cash is not the right way to do this. The Additionality principle means that government should not use Lottery Funds to back fill spending cuts.

Finally, it need hardly be said, but charities are under a great deal of pressure and will be further squeezed by cuts to be announced next week. The sector currently receives £13bn in income from government grants and contracts, much of which could be at risk in the coming years.

Even bigger issues

BLF is only one of a list of potential threats to the voluntary sector. As mentioned above, cuts to frontline services, particularly local services, are likely to have a much bigger impact.

And with Chancellor’s announcement of devolving business rates to LAs, we have also been seeking confirmation that charities will continue to be exempt from paying 80% of these rates. On this, we have had slightly more reassuring sounds from HMT. The success of the sector’s 2012 “Give It Back George” campaign perhaps not so far forgotten in some quarters.

What can I do?

Call or email your local MP today and tell them how vital BLF funds are to organisations in your community. A full list can be found by searching here.

Sources: ACEVO, #savebiglottery, BBC News.


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