Big Lottery Fund defends itself against claims that it does not do enough for the poor

Report by think tank Theos has led to 'inaccurate and ill-informed' press coverage, says Peter Wanless

A row has broken out between the Big Lottery Fund and think tank Theos over claims that National Lottery funds are not being distributed effectively enough.

The National Lottery: Is It Progressive? a report published last week by the think tank, said "the good cause funding created by lottery play is disproportionately drawn from the less affluent, yet it is not spent for their benefit".

But in a strongly-worded letter to Paul Bickley, the senior researcher at Theos who wrote the report, BLF chief executive Peter Wanless said it contained incorrect data and misrepresented the grants awarded by the BLF. He said this had led to "inaccurate and ill-informed" press coverage.

In the letter, seen by Third Sector, Wanless said Bickley should take steps to "correct the public position that some have taken in the light of your work".

Bickley told Third Sector Wanless had misinterpreted the report, however. "The research is not specifically about the Big Lottery Fund," he said. "It's about the National Lottery's good cause funding as a whole, only half of which is distributed by the BLF."

Bickley said the report did not take into account funding by the Big Lottery Fund's predecessors. Wanless was also taking into account grants that had been made since the research was completed in December 2008, he said.

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