Critics hit out at Olympics scheme

The Government's plan to use proceeds from the sales of Olympic land to repay the money taken in the second raid on the lottery might have been based on figures that overestimated land values by as much as £1bn, some critics have suggested.

Charities have welcomed culture minister James Purnell’s pledge not to make any further raids on the lottery to pay for the 2012 Olympics. But shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt raised concerns about plans to repay money that has already been taken.

He said: “While we welcome the fact that James Purnell appears to have given the assurance we demanded that there should be no further raids on good causes to fund the Olympics, it now looks like those same good causes will be crippled because of hopelessly optimistic projections made by the Government as to the value of land proceeds that good causes are supposed to receive after 2012.

“Until we get a fully transparent budget, the public will worry that once again the Government’s figures won’t add up and problems such as these will happen again and again.”

Pete Moorey, media manager at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “At this stage there is still a lot of misinformation, and it’s not clear what will be going on. The worry about this funding is that it is always dependent on the market.”

Despite these fears, the Government has reassured the opposition parties of its intention to protect arts, sports and heritage organisations from any negative effects of the lottery raid.

It is also widely predicted that a Lords debate on the issue, scheduled for 30 January, will come down in the Government’s favour.

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