Media owner Richard Desmond sets up new charity lottery

The Health Lottery is intended to raise millions to fund projects to reduce health inequality

Richard Desmond
Richard Desmond

A lottery that is intended to generate £50m a year for charities working to improve health equality in England, Scotland and Wales will be launched on Thursday.

The Health Lottery will be made up of 51 local lotteries across Britain and will be launched by the media owner Richard Desmond, who owns businesses including the Daily Express and Channel 5.

The charity the People’s Health Trust has been set up principally to distribute charitable funds raised by the lottery.  

John Hume, chief executive of the People’s Health Trust, told Third Sector that tickets would be £1 each and 20.34p from every ticket sale would go to the trust. Of this, 0.34p would be spent on administration costs, leaving 20p for grants to charities.

He said the lottery had a target of selling £250m of tickets in its first year, which would mean that £50m would available for grants.

This money will be spent on projects that work to reduce health inequalities across Great Britain, with none of the grants available to the NHS. The organisation hopes to start making grants before the end of 2012.

Hume said the trust would announce in October the details of two grant programmes, one for medium-sized grants and another for smaller grants that would be available for grass-roots organisations.

"We want to help people live longer, healthy lives," he said. "We’ll be looking at areas of disadvantage and we want to fund projects that are tailored to individual communities’ needs."

He said the projects it would fund would be diverse – such as helping young carers improve their education or work prospects, increasing the amount of green space in urban areas, or promoting physical activity for young people.

The lottery has been criticised because the proportion of ticket sales that will go to charity will be less than it is for the National Lottery. About 28 pence from the sale of each £1 National Lottery ticket goes to good causes.  

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, told Third Sector he was worried that ticket sales for the Health Lottery could affect sales of National Lottery tickets. He said he wanted it to be made clear to people how much money was going to good causes from the sale of the tickets so that charities would not miss out.

Hume said research had shown that the introduction of the Health Lottery would result in additional lottery ticket sales and that there was no major competition between the two lotteries.

"There seems to be an appetite for another lottery," he said.

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