Hospice Lotteries Association urges boycott of new Health Lottery

Association says scheme launched by media owner Richard Desmond will affect income from hospices' own lotteries

Richard Desmond
Richard Desmond

The Hospice Lotteries Association has launched a campaign that urges people not to play the new Health Lottery, launched in September by the media owner Richard Desmond.

Tickets are currently on sale for the Health Lottery, with 20p of every pound raised from ticket sales being put aside for grants for projects that work to reduce health inequalities in England, Scotland and Wales.

The HLA, which represents 115 hospice lotteries in the UK, has launched the campaign because it fears that people will play the Health Lottery instead of hospice lotteries, which could have a significant impact on hospice incomes.

A statement from the association said that, on average, 50 or 60p from every pound raised from hospice lotteries went towards the care they provided, far higher than the 20p through the Health Lottery.

Garth Caswell, chairman of the association, said it saw the Health Lottery as a threat to the near £50m that was raised by hospice lotteries every year.

"Hospices are reliant on initiatives like fundraising lotteries just to stay afloat," he said. "That’s why we at the association are urging people to say ‘no’ to the Health Lottery. The future of their local hospice might depend on it."

David Praill, chief executive of Help the Hospices, which is supporting the campaign, said: "In these already challenging times, we are very concerned that this new lottery will have a serious impact on the vital funds generated by the hospice lotteries that take place every week across the UK."

Martin Hall, chief executive of the Health Lottery, said it did not see itself as competing with local hospice lotteries in any way.

"I know that many of them have strong and long-established local networks of supporters and donors who rightly give their time and spare money to that very important cause," he said. "We doubt our lottery scheme could ever impact on those strong relationships and we would never want that to be the case."

He said that the People’s Health Trust, the charity in charge of distributing the charitable funds raised by the lottery, had contacted the Hospice Lotteries Association to talk about how they could work together.

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