Society lotteries should give more to good causes, Lords argue

Some peers contend that the Health Lottery and the People's Postcode Lottery should face the same requirements as the National Lottery

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Addington
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Addington

Some members of the House of Lords have called for the Health Lottery and the People's Postcode Lottery to be required to give the same proportion of their revenue to good causes as the National Lottery.

In a debate to mark the 21st anniversary of the founding of the National Lottery in the Lords last week, some peers also called for the Big Lottery Fund, which distributes the National Lottery’s good cause money, to reduce its costs.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Addington said society lotteries should be required to give more to good causes. "If we allow these lotteries to come in, we must place the same restrictions on them and say that they must give the same proportion of money as the National Lottery," he said. "If you are going to take on something that involves goodwill, you have to back it up."

He said the National Lottery should be protected because it was able to reach further than government to support good causes, the arts, sports and heritage.

The Health Lottery gives 20 per cent of its revenue to good causes, compared with the People’s Postcode Lottery at 28 per cent and the National Lottery at 29 per cent.

Lord Holmes, the Conservative peer, said the independent lotteries that had "parked their tanks" in the same space as the National Lottery were going against the spirit, if not the letter, of the legal framework for lotteries, and plans to increase their permitted jackpots from £400,000 to £5m would have a detrimental effect on the National Lottery.

"Parliament’s intent was to have one National Lottery, a focus for the nation’s heads and hearts, to get the maximum public interest, the maximum prize pot and the maximum funds to good causes with minimum cost, minimum red tape and minimum fraud," he said.

He said that lotteries such as the Health Lottery, which is made up of 51 society lotteries with a proportion of each one’s revenue going to local health-related good causes, and the People’s Postcode Lottery, which manages society lotteries on behalf of a range of charitable bodies, did not offer the same value for money.

"The People’s Postcode Lottery’s costs are 35 per cent and the Health Lottery’s costs are an amazing 50 per cent, which can be set against the National Lottery’s 5 per cent," he said.

The Conservative Duke of Wellington said he felt the costs of the BLF and the bodies which distribute revenue to sports, arts and heritage causes were too high.

Currently they can have running costs of up to 8 per cent of the money they receive from the National Lottery. "Other public bodies have reduced costs and in the private sector there are grant-giving charities with lower cost percentages," said Wellington

"All these distributors have become more bureaucratic since they were started and this might be a good moment to reduce the bureaucracy."

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