Government says £69m of Olympic money is set to be returned to lottery distributors

In a letter to the Directory of Social Change, Helen Grant, the minister for sport, says the proceeds from the sale of the Olympic Village have been placed in the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund

The Olympic Village
The Olympic Village

The government has said it is set to pay back to lottery distributors the remainder of the £150m it pledged to return this year from the sale of the Olympic athletes village and from unspent funds connected to the 2012 games.

The previous government used £675m from lottery sources to help pay for the London Olympics, the bulk of which is not expected to be returned until 2030.

Last year Hugh Robertson, the former minister for sport and tourism, said that between £100m and £150m of unspent lottery cash and proceeds from the sale of the athletes village could be returned to lottery funds by July 2014.

An initial £79m of this amount was paid back to the National Lottery Distribution Fund in July, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the remaining funds would come "later in the year".

A letter from Helen Grant, minister for sport and tourism, sent this month to the Directory of Social Change, which has been calling for an early return of lottery money taken to fund the Olympics, said that the sale of the Olympic Village was completed on 6 August and the proceeds from the sale, worth £69.2m, had been placed in the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund.

"The process for the final closure of the OLDF is now under way, and the balance will be moved to the National Lottery Distribution Fund for allocation in the usual proportions to good causes," Grant said in the letter.

The National Lottery Distribution Fund distributes good-cause money to lottery distributors including the Big Lottery Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sport England.

Jay Kennedy, director of policy and research at the Directory of Social Change – whose Big Lottery Refund campaign has been calling for an early return of £425m taken from the BLF to fund the Olympics – said he was pleased that the money was being returned but that it should have happened sooner.

"It is a good thing that now we know the village deal has concluded, the £69m refund is happening and it isn’t going to drag on further into the end of the year," he said.

"But the government had originally said that this money from the athletes village sale would be coming back in July along with the £69m in unspent OLDF funds."

The BLF said in July that it expected to receive about £60m – its share of the £150m total – from the winding-up of the OLDF this year.

A spokesman for the BLF said in a statement: "As far as the payback is concerned, we were aware that the proceeds of the Olympic Village sale were to be returned to lottery distributors, and this meant we were able to establish the £40m Spirit of 2012 Trust. We wanted to ensure that we were able to support projects that had a solid legacy aim immediately, rather than waiting for the sale proceeds, so we ring-fenced the money in anticipation of these funds being returned. This is now fully up and running."

The lottery distributors have previously been told they would receive £675m of receipts from the progressive sale of Olympic Park land, with the first payments likely to come through in the mid-2020s. The balance is not expected until 2030/31.

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