Government says it won't pay back £675m of lottery money until 2030/31

National Lottery minister John Penrose tells Acevo the lottery will start receiving funding from the sale of land after the games in the mid-2020s

Olympic park
Olympic park

The government is not expected to pay back the £675m borrowed from lottery distributors to finance the Olympics until 2030/31, according to the National Lottery minister, John Penrose.

The chief executives body Acevo wrote to Penrose last month calling for any underspend on the Olympic budget to be returned immediately to the Big Lottery Fund to repay the £675m taken from lottery distributors by the previous government to finance the Olympics.

The culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said in June that £476m of contingency funds remained in the Olympic budget, thanks to savings made by the Olympic Delivery Authority.

In response to Acevo’s letter, Penrose wrote to restate the position he set out in February, that the lottery would start receiving funding from the sale of land after the Games in the mid-2020s.

But Penrose's letter says the full amount is not expected to be paid back until "potentially 2030/31".

"Current estimates are that the lottery should start to receive payments in the mid-2020s with the full £675m potentially paid back by 2030/31," he writes.

Penrose says the Olympic village will be sold in 2014 for £69m and that a proportion of that money will immediately be repaid to the lottery fund.

He says the outlook for lottery funding is "very positive" because ticket sales are up and the government has protected the repayment of the £675m from land sales in a contractual agreement.

Ralph Michell, director of policy at Acevo, said: "John Penrose’s assurances that the £675m taken from the lottery could be paid back by 2030 will be cold comfort to charities that are feeling the squeeze today.

"The government should commit to channelling any Olympic underspend back to the Big Lottery Fund so that it can support charities at a time when many are struggling."

Jay Kennedy, head of policy at the Directory of Social Change, said: "Whether it’s 2025 or 2030, this is unacceptable and both dates are rubbish as far as charities are concerned. We want the money to be paid back as soon as the Olympics are finished because charities across the UK need that money now. The clock is ticking and we want David Cameron to sign the cheque the day after the closing ceremony."

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