In 2007 the Labour Government sought to pay for the ballooning cost of the 2012 Olympic Games, and unexpectedly ‘borrowed’ £425M from Big Lottery funds, set aside for good causes. This was in addition to the £213M which the Government had planned to use from this same source. The initial expectation was that all of this money would be repaid at the close of the Games. The Minister for the Olympics, Tessa Jowell stated in Parliament ‘the additional funding necessary for a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games will be re-paid—providing them [good causes] and the whole country with a further 2012 dividend’. The decision to borrow this money was understandably opposed by many charities and also the Conservative Party who are now in a position to do something about this (as they have been for the last 6 years). Yet the most recent information from the Government is that ‘Current estimates are that the Lottery should start to receive payments in the mid-2020s with the full £675 million potentially paid by 2030/2031.’
I confess I have never bought a lottery ticket, although I have been involved in numerous charities that have benefited enormously from lottery funding. However I know that the principle is that from the sale of every ticket, a few pence are set aside for good causes and that this part of the transaction should not be at the whim of the Government to overrule their own arrangements when it suits them. Since 2007 a number of vital charities in Sussex have closed as a result of funding shortages, and others are still in a vulnerable state, putting people’s lives at risk. We need the Government to revise its long term repayment strategy and instead repay all £675M immediately.
The campaign to get most of this money back has been tirelessly coordinated by an organisation called the Directory of Social Change or DSC. They have a useful website on the topic and their focus is primarily on the £425M that was taken from the Big Lottery Fund without any explanation or justification.