Sir Stuart Etherington 'very concerned' over rumoured cuts to the Big Lottery Fund

The NCVO chief executive has told the government that cuts to lottery funding could effectively 'close the door to new applications' from the sector

Sir Stuart Etherington
Sir Stuart Etherington

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, has warned the government that rumoured changes to the distribution of lottery money could mean the Big Lottery Fund "all but closes its doors to new funding applications".

The NCVO and the charity leaders’ body Acevo have both written letters to senior government ministers warning of the profound impact that any reduction in funding for the BLF could have on the voluntary sector.

It comes after a group calling itself Save Big Lottery claimed that this week’s comprehensive spending review will see the Treasury cut annual funding for the BLF by £320m, with the fund’s allocation of proceeds from the National Lottery falling from 40 per cent to 22 per cent.

This money will be transferred to the arts, heritage and sport to make up for budget cuts at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the group claims.

In his letter, Etherington said that because the BLF was the largest single supporter of the charity sector, any change to the proportion of lottery revenue it received would need wider consultation and should not come as a result of a "snap decision".

NCVO and Acevo added that any changes would come on top of a significant reduction in grant funding for charities, from £4.5bn in 2006/07 to £2.2bn in 2012/13.

Etherington wrote: "The nature of BLF’s funds are such that many grants are committed years in advance. As such, I would be very concerned that a reduction of the size being reported in BLF’s share of National Lottery income could mean it all but closes its doors to new funding applications.

"This would affect thousands of charities and community groups that apply to the fund each year, many of which will have invested in developing their services and funding applications."

Etherington said that NCVO was "currently drawing on open data from the lottery distributors and could contribute new evidence about where lottery funding is going, to which types and sizes of organisations, and to what effect". He said this could help inform a consultation into the impact of any changes to BLF income.

In a separate letter to the Chancellor George Osborne, Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said any diminution of funding on the scale rumoured "would have profound effects on our charity and social enterprise sector".

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