Government 'unlikely to pay back lottery money used for Olympics until next decade'

John Penrose, the Olympics minister, says money will be paid back from the sale of land on the Olympic park over a 25-year period

The Olympic park site
The Olympic park site

John Penrose, the Olympics minister, has said the government is unlikely to return £675m of lottery money diverted to pay for the London Olympics until the mid-2020s.

Penrose revealed the information in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Gareth Thomas, the shadow civil society minister.

The Labour government took £675m from lottery distributors to pay for this summer’s games. The Big Lottery Fund, which lost £425m of the £675m, usually gives the overwhelming majority of its funds to the voluntary sector.

Penrose said lottery distributors would be repaid from the receipts of the sale of land on the Olympic park.

"The development of the Olympic park is a long-term programme, with land sales due to take place over a period of 25 years," said Penrose.

"Given the timescale of the development programme and its dependence on market performance, we cannot be certain about the timing, but the current estimate from the Olympic Park Legacy Company is that the distributors should start to receive payments in the mid-2020s."

Jay Kennedy, head of policy at the Directory of Social Change, which is running a campaign for the return of £425m taken from the Big Lottery Fund, said waiting until the mid-2020s was "totally unacceptable".

"Charities and voluntary groups around the country need this money now," he said.

"Arrangements need to be put in place to refund the lottery as soon as possible after the games, whether through asset sales or some other means," he said.

"We are calling for a clear plan from government about how it will refund the lottery in a reasonable period of time; so far that has not been forthcoming."

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