Big Lottery Fund defends itself from criticism by Tory MPs

Nadine Dorries, Andrew Bridgen and Peter Bone have slammed the BLF after press stories revealed that it gave out more per head of population in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland than in England

The Big Lottery Fund has defended its grant-making policies after Conservative MPs questioned the way it allocated spending in different parts of the UK.

The Tory MPs Nadine Dorries, Andrew Bridgen and Peter Bone criticised the grant-making body, whose annual report showed that it spent more per person in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland than in England, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail newspapers.

But the BLF said it allocated funding according to need, not just population size, although it did take that into account.

According to the BLF annual report for the year to 31 March 2017, it spent £509.6m on grants in England last year, which works out at £9.32 per capita, whereas Scotland received £76m, or £14.04 a head, Wales received £44.3m, or £14.29 a head, and Northern Ireland’s £27m broke down to £14.21 a head. The annual report showed that an additional £56m was set aside for UK-wide projects.

The newspaper reports did not mention that, according to the annual report, England received the vast majority of the country-specific funding, on 78 per cent, while Scotland received 11 per cent, Wales received 6.35 per cent and Northern Ireland 4.65 per cent.

Bone, the MP for Wellingborough, said: "The Big Lottery Fund needs to look more carefully at how it distributes money.

"The Scottish already get far more in public money per head of population than the English, so you’d think in that case they’d be getting less lottery money."

He said he believed this would annoy those in his constituency who were struggling to get by and there were a number of good causes there that deserved the funding.

Dorries, the MP for Mid Bedfordshire, called for a review of how the BLF allocated funding, and Bridgen, who represents the North West Leicestershire constituency, said people would be shocked by the figures, according to the Daily Mail.

But a BLF spokeswoman said: "Population is one key factor we take into consideration when determining our funding, but we do so alongside other social and economic factors.

"We continually review the allocation of our funding to ensure people across the UK can access it, and that it makes the biggest possible difference to people and communities."

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