Olympics bid threatens big cut in Lottery funds

Emma Maier

NCVO has attacked the Government for failing to protect National Lottery funding for good causes after it emerged that proposed Olympics-themed Lottery games may divert more than eight-times more money from the voluntary sector than first expected.

When the plan to use lottery funding for London's Olympics bid was first announced in April (Third Sector, 30 April), the Department for Culture, Media and Sport acknowledged that the new themed games would lead to a 4 per cent reduction in money going to good causes, equating to a loss of £54m.

But after the Government published the Horserace Betting and Olympic Bill last week to pave the way for the fundraising strategy, Camelot admitted it believes that the cost to charities could actually be much higher.

The Lottery operator estimates that 59 per cent of the £750m worth of Olympic-themed tickets will be bought by people who will choose them instead of the mainstream tickets. Because the Olympic tickets won't contribute anything to causes other than the Olympics, the loss sustained by charities could be up to £440m.

NCVO is concerned that the Government has failed to explain how it will protect the income of voluntary and community organisations dependent on lottery funding.

The umbrella body has renewed its call for the Government to scrap the 12 per cent tax levied on National Lottery ticket sales.

"NCVO is calling on government to minimise the damage to good causes by diverting the 12 per cent tax on every National Lottery ticket - worth £549m per year - to good causes and Lottery players," said NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington.

NCVO first proposed the idea last month as part of the consultation on the reform of the Lottery (Third Sector, 5 November), but has had no response from the Government. The body is now considering how to take the matter forward. Its options include tabling an amendment to the Bill, approaching the Treasury to discuss the proposal to abolish the lottery tax, and challenging the DCMS to respond.

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