Government should cap Olympic lottery money, says Lib Dem peer

The Government should cap the amount that can be raised year by year from lottery games that benefit the Olympics so that other good causes don't lose out, a Liberal Democrat peer has said.

Lord Clement-Jones said that if the £750m to be generated by the sale of Olympic games tickets was raised too quickly, sales of other tickets would fall, reducing the amount available for other causes.

The peer said the Government should enforce its original targets of raising one-third of the £750m total by 2008 and the rest in the following four years. He was speaking at a debate in the House of Lords, which later voted in favour of transferring £1.085bn of lottery funds to the 2012 Olympics (Third Sector Online, 5 February). "If it is raised any faster, good causes will be hurt," he said.

Clement-Jones also said he was concerned about imitation lottery games masquerading as National Lottery products, and urged the Treasury to prioritise an evaluation of Camelot paying a gross profits tax, which would give more to good causes than the current tax system.

Robin Simpson, chief executive of the Voluntary Arts Network, said he agreed with Lord Clement-Jones's priorities.

"Most of our focus will be on holding the Government to the pledges it has made and making sure the Treasury really does look at a move to a gross profits tax," he said. "The grey lotteries issue is also part of the package. If there are games that look similar to lottery games but aren't, that is clearly a problem that needs to be addressed."

Pete Moorey, media manager at the NCVO, said the umbrella body's priority was to get in contact with Andy Burnham, who took over as culture secretary in the January reshuffle.

"With these debates, a line has been drawn under these issues for the moment, so we don't have an immediate campaigning position," said Moorey. "In the future we need to focus on land sales and gross profits tax, but we have time to secure an agreement the sector will be satisfied with."


Olympic funding


- Between 2009 and 2012, £425m of BLF funds will be transferred to the Olympic Delivery Authority.

- The BLF will therefore lose just over £100m a year.

- The BLF usually receives about £600m a year in lottery revenues, so with £100m less this will work out at a total of about £500m a year.

- Not all the annual budget will be available for new projects. Some of it will be used for ongoing funding on existing programmes.

- The Government's commitment to keeping voluntary sector spending at 60 to 70 per cent of the £600m means the sector can expect between £360m and £420m during 2009 to 2012.

- BLF chair Clive Booth is confident the BLF will maintain the 60 to 70 per cent third sector commitment beyond 2012.

- New BLF projects won't start until late 2009/10 and some will certainly not begin until 2010/11, Booth says.

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