Big Lottery Fund to receive £60m from winding-up of the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund

The BLF will receive a smaller proportion of the money taken for the London Olympics infrastructure, because its share of lottery revenues changed from 50 per cent in 2010 to 40 per cent in 2012

The Olympic village
The Olympic village

The Big Lottery Fund has said it will receive about £60m over the next few months from the winding-up of the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund, including the sale of the Olympic village, as the government pays back the money it took from lottery distributors later than originally indicated.

The previous government used £675m from lottery sources to help pay for the infrastructure needed for the London Olympics. Last year Hugh Robertson, the former minister for sport and tourism, said that between £100m and £150m of unspent lottery cash and proceeds from the sale of the athletes village could be returned to lottery funds by mid-2014.

But the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement today that only £79m would be paid back this month to the National Lottery Distribution Fund, which distributes good-cause money to lottery distributors including the BLF, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sport England. It said that a further £69m from the village sale would come when the OLDF was wound up later this year.

The £60m the BLF will receive represents its share of the £150m total.

A DCMS spokesman said that lottery distributors would be entitled to £675m of receipts from the progressive sale of Olympic Park land, with the first payments likely to come through in the mid-2020s. The balance is not expected until 2030/31.

"We have been completely clear how money will be returned to good causes," he said. 

The BLF stands to receive a smaller proportion of the money coming back from the Olympics than it contributed because its share of lottery revenues changed from 50 per cent in 2010 to 40 per cent in 2012.

Jay Kennedy, director of policy and research at the Directory of Social Change – whose Big Refund Campaign has been calling for an early return of money taken from BLF – said this was "outrageous".

"We’d argue that the charitable causes in the BLF fund are owed a bit more, because they contributed more in the first place," he told Third Sector. "That’s not to disparage the value of the other lottery distributors at all, but it just isn’t acceptable to change the ratios for a refund retrospectively.

"The good news is that the money that was unspent in this OLDF is coming back, although we’re still waiting for the final confirmation that it’s in the bank. So far the DCMS has been completely unresponsive to our questions about the precise timing of when that happens."

A spokeswoman for the BLF said: "We know the government has committed to return the proceeds from the sale of land and other Olympic assets to lottery distributors by the late 2020s. We look forward to working with the sector to maximise the use of that funding when it arrives."

The money to be received by the BLF represents the repayment of a loan made by the OLDF to the Olympic Village and is unrelated to the sale of the land on which it was built.

In 2007, the government took £425m from the BLF to plug a shortfall in the Olympics budget. Sir Clive Booth, then chair of the BLF, voiced concern at the time about the potential effects of the move on the sector.

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