Lottery cash raid: the fightback begins

Lottery cash raid: the fightback begins
Third Force News

A united front has been formed in the battle against a Westminster cash grab of Scottish Big Lottery cash.
Major third sector players have joined with the Scottish Government in opposing plans which could have a devastating impact on projects and communities across Scotland.

It is understood that UK government ministers, headed by Chancellor George Osborne, are set to raid the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) by a reported £320 million a year – meaning £30m from Scotland’s £70m could be cut.

Westminster’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport wants to mitigate cuts to arts and sports bodies and will take cash from the BLF to do so.

The plans have sparked a furious response and fightback.

Martin Sime, chief executive, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “This is an appalling prospect. The Big Lottery Fund in Scotland provides vital support to charities.

“Unlike other funding sources which come with lots of restrictions on how the money should be used, lottery funding gives charities and other third sector organisations the freedom to try out new ways to tackle poverty and inequality, welfare and other deep-rooted challenges.

“If these cuts go ahead, there will be painful consequences in communities across Scotland.”

Aberlour Child Care Trust and the Scottish Refugee Council are recent recipients of funding from the BLF in Scotland.

SallyAnn Kelly, chief executive of Aberlour, said: “If these proposals were to be implemented then the impact of a UK government cut to lottery spending in Scotland on this scale would be devastating for thousands of people who rely on services provided by lottery grants.

“These are services which the public sector simply don’t have the capacity to provide. After eight years of surviving and delivering in some of the most difficult economic conditions in memory this could set charities back still further. A significant cut to lottery funding, coupled with increased demand from people affected by welfare cuts and unemployment would represent a perfect storm for many Scottish charities.

“Scotland’s charities are used to working with very tight finances but a cut of this size to the lifeline funding that the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland represents could deliver a hammer blow to many organisations currently delivering vital services in Scottish communities.”

John Wilkes, chief executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “If these proposals turn out to be correct then this will have a potentially devastating impact on charities in Scotland. Big Lottery funding has always been intended to provide resources for activities and projects that complement statutory and other sources of funding.

“The lottery in Scotland has a long tradition of supporting those communities that are often excluded from mainstream or statutory funding. It has also been a vital source of funding to allow the development of new and innovative solutions to a range of social issues.

“Big Lottery funding to Scottish Refugee Council has enabled new services and projects to be developed, such as the award winning Guardianship Project which provides a lifeline to separated children in the asylum process. This project has gone on to be mainstreamed with public funds.

“The general public who provide all the funding that the Big Lottery Fund disperses should be concerned that the money they provide continues to be used for the purposes the lottery was set up for and not to subsidise UK government cuts in other areas.”

Social Justice secretary Alex Neil said: “Any cuts to the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland would have a devastating impact on the people and organisations who rely on the funding that helps more than 3,000 projects.

“The Scottish Government has united with the third sector in its opposition to proposals to slash the Big Lottery Fund’s budget. The National Lottery is independent of the UK government so it should not be raiding the Big Lottery Fund to subsidise its departmental spending cuts.

“The UK government’s austerity agenda is focused on cutting public services and social security no matter the cost to people. It is clear any cuts to Big Lottery funding will have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable people in our society and would exacerbate the impact of other UK government cuts.”

Any cuts to lottery spending will be outlined in Chancellor George Osborne’s anutumn statement, which is due on Wednesday, 25 November – the same day the BLF in Scotland is due to announce its spending programme for next year.