EDITORIAL: Lottery funding for sector faces uncertain future

Lucy Maggs

The National Lottery has presented a fantastic funding opportunity for a range of organisations across the country since it was set up in 1994. But the Lottery is on the verge of a major shake-up and the future for funding for the sector looks uncertain.

A successful Olympic bid could divert millions of pounds from good causes as a variety of new games to fund the bid are likely to be launched, resulting in fewer players of the mainstream Lottery draw.

The merger of the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund could also inevitably divert money from less popular causes.

The Community Fund prides itself on its independence and its funding of some fringe causes, such as asylum seekers. The New Opportunities Fund, however, is used for more mainstream funding to support areas such as health and education.

The sector will start to feel the impact of the merger from January when the two bodies move into the same building under the same chief executive.

The Government has tried to reassure the sector that neither of these outcomes will have an enormous effect on funding to the sector. The regeneration effects, and the boost to the country from a successful Olympic bid could, it has been argued, boost the sector in the long run. Through the Lottery White Paper, Tessa Jowell has promised that after the merger of the two Lottery bodies it will continue to fund unpopular causes and the reduction in bureaucracy will make applications easier for smaller, fringe groups.

But until we see the effects of the Olympic bid, and the merger, the future of Lottery funding to the sector is in limbo. The only thing we know for sure is that organisations cannot rely on it and would do well to direct funding applications elsewhere.

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