The road to the merger of the New Opportunities Fund and the Community Fund, enshrined in last week's White Paper, began with Home Secretary David Blunkett's intervention to insist that the Community Fund review its decision to award a £340,000 grant to the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns. His imprint on the White Paper can be seen in the prohibition that "lottery grants should be for good causes, not doctrinaire activities."
Diana Brittan, chair of the Community Fund, initially held out against merger, citing "a grave concern that the Government would take control of the Community Fund's independent grant stream." After gaining assurances from the DCMS, she consented to merger. Last week she said that the new distributor would "focus on the benefits the lottery can bring to communities, making funding more accessible and putting the customer first."
Jill Pitkeathley, chair of the New Opportunities Fund, has generally supported merger. When it was first put forward for consideration she said: "There should be a real opportunity to think creatively and develop an effective mix of open and strategic programmes."
Conservative shadow Culture secretary John Whittingdale ploughed an independent furrow, opposing both the merger and the "politicisation" of the lottery and grants. In response to the White Paper he said: "the Government should have gone further to give people a real say over which charitable causes in their own local communities benefit from their lottery ticket purchases."