Government White Paper raises 'more questions than answers'

The voluntary sector has given a muted response to the White Paper, with organisations seeking assurances on how decisions will be developed.

NCVO has called on the Government to live up to its promise of giving the lottery back to the people. "The acid test will be a relaxation of government controls on the proposed lottery distributor," said chief executive Stuart Etherington. "We also need assurances that those causes that are less obviously popular are safeguarded so that all parts of the community benefit from the lottery."

Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the New Opportunities Fund, said he wanted the policy directions for the merged distributor to be less prescriptive. "The new distributor could have latitude about how to develop and consult on them," he said.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations expressed regret that Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, had not announced plans for a Scottish lottery distributor.

Lucy McTernan, director of corporate affairs at SCVO, said: "This White Paper raises more questions than answers. The problem with management of lottery issues in the past is that the decisions are not accountable in Scotland. If you look at bodies like the New Opportunities Fund, all their decisions are taken in London."

The Wales Council for Voluntary Action said the sector in Wales wanted to be sure that the grants the new merged body would make are "genuinely additional" to public spending.

"Voluntary and community groups have already seen their share of lottery proceeds fall as more funding is channelled into public sector projects - and they will want to know how a merger will help them," said deputy chief executive Phil Jarrold.

Maurice Wren, co-ordinator of Asylum Aid, which receives funding from the Community Fund, said he was "quite relaxed" about the White Paper's plans for more public involvement in deciding which organisations get grants.

There has been doubt as to whether the Community Fund's regional structure of 13 local offices would survive in the new distributor, but chief executive Richard Buxton said there was every indication it would continue.

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