Sector reacts cautiously to Tory proposals

Third sector organisations have given a mixed reaction to Tory proposals to reform the National Lottery.

The Conservatives’ National Lottery Independence Bill – which outlines what Tory policy would be in the event of the party taking power – proposes to make the lottery independent from the Government and raise an extra £182m for voluntary and grass-roots organisations (Third Sector Online, 7 February).

The Tories said their plans would stop “government raids” on lottery funds and would generate extra revenue for the voluntary sector by introducing a gross profits tax regime.

An spokesman for chief executives body Acevo agreed that it was important to keep lottery funds out of the hands of politicians.

“The recent raid on lottery funds for the Olympics shows the need to maintain independence from government,” he said. “An increase in funds available for the sector is clearly desirable.”

But Neil Cleeveley, director of information and policy at umbrella body Navca, said that although any move that provided more money for the sector would be welcome, it was sensible to align third sector funding with government projects.

“It’s good that the lottery attempts to add value to whatever the public sector is doing,” he said. “It makes sense to have synergy.”

He added that he supported the idea of third sector organisations independently building on work done by government programmes to tackle disadvantage.

An NCVO spokeswoman said the umbrella body was interested in the proposals and would like more detail. “We hope to meet the Conservatives to discuss it,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport hit back at Tory suggestions that it had cut funding for good causes.

“It is ridiculous to suggest that we have cut funding to arts sports, arts and heritage projects,” said a spokeswoman. “They also receive generous exchequer funding. We continue to encourage lottery distributors to keep their administration costs as low as possible, but they do need sufficient resources to monitor grants to ensure they are well spent and to prevent fraud.

“We made it clear last month that we are looking, with the Treasury, at this issue of gross profit tax.”

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