Cutbacks at Lottery Fund put promise to charities in doubt

The board of the Big Lottery Fund has decided in principle to cut £120m from its programmes, including some that fund voluntary sector projects, in a bid to recoup losses from the recent raid to fund the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Big Lottery Fund: Olympics knock-on could damage charity funding
Big Lottery Fund: Olympics knock-on could damage charity funding

Sources have told Third Sector that two programmes in line for cuts are the Young People's Fund 2 and the Research Programme, both of which are targeted at third sector organisations.

Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, promised in March that the voluntary sector would be protected from the effects of the fund's extra £425m contribution to the 2012 games. Its Olympic contribution to date is £638m, and the National Lottery distributors as a whole will surrender £2.2bn.

In England, the Young People's Fund 2 - a programme to promote youth inclusion - is expected to lose a significant proportion of its money. It was originally due to be launched on 18 April this year, but is now unlikely to open until 2008.

Of £100m originally committed to the Young People's Fund 2, £19m has gone to continuing a statutory project that began under the first Young People's Fund, and approximately £4m will go to a contract with the National Children's Bureau.

The BLF website says the programme "will be primarily aimed at the third sector" and "statutory and private organisations may not apply". But it now seems unlikely that it will receive all of the outstanding £77m.

Another project likely to be cut is the Research Programme, designed to fund medical and social research, which has £25m earmarked for third sector groups.

The BLF website states that "only organisations from the voluntary and community sector will be eligible to apply for funding". Part of the money will go to Momenta, the private management company contracted to deliver the project.

A BLF spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the proposed cuts before they are discussed by its country committees in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. "The board has agreed an in-principle approach," she said.

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