THINKPIECE: There are still concerns over lottery merger

Diana Brittan CBE, the chair of the board at the Community Fund

The creation of a new lottery distributor could be an exciting opportunity for charities and community groups. It would be responsible for giving out just under 50 per cent of the National Lottery's good cause money.

But the Community Fund is only ready to support the creation of a new lottery distributor if the legitimate interests of the voluntary sector are effectively met. If you share our concerns or if you have ones of your own, please let us know so that we can take your views into account in our discussions with the Government.

A new lottery distributor would have great impact on the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people in the UK. At a time when the Community Fund's income is going down, joining with the New Opportunities Fund is a thought-provoking proposal.

I want to see a new lottery distributor being better than the sum of its two parts. It must listen to its clients and offer a streamlined service while at the same time making a real difference to the lives of those who are most disadvantaged.

While the public, by and large, don't know where the lottery good cause money has been spent, the voluntary sector does. The Community Fund has given hundreds of millions of pounds of grants to support charities and community groups and to help the development of the voluntary sector across the UK. In Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the English regions, the links our staff have formed with their communities are the lifeblood of our grant-giving. We are decentralised and "bottom up", not "top down".

We would like to see the Community Fund ethos preserved. We would like to feel sure that our stream of funding remains in roughly the same proportions as now.

The views of the charities and community groups will be crucial in shaping a new distributor. Third Sector readers, who have a wealth of experience, should be thinking about what they want.

If you have views on the Community Fund and the potential merger, please send them to Third Sector where they will be fed through to us and some may be published. You can email letters to thirdsector@ haynet.com or send them by post to Third Sector, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP.

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