Independent and accountable lottery distributor needed, says NCVO

The NCVO launched an impassioned plea for an "independent, additional and accountable" lottery distributor at the Labour conference this week.

Speaking at a fringe event organised by the Big Lottery Fund to answer the question “Who should the lottery please?”, Liz Atkins, director of public policy at the NCVO, said: “It’s vital that lottery funders should have the independence to choose where the money goes. Lottery money should not be a substitute for general taxation or another way of funding government projects.”

Atkins emphasised that the strength of the lottery was to fund programmes that other funders tended to shy away from. “The lottery should take risks rather than play it safe to please people,” she said.

Atkins acknowledged that the 2012 Olympics was a good cause, but said it was a “government-inspired” initiative and not something that the lottery would necessarily choose to fund.

However James Purnell MP, who replaced Tessa Jowell as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in June, contested the idea that the Olympics was a government project. “It is a project for the nation,” he said.

Purnell also called on voluntary organisations to “take a step back and look at the big picture”. He said: “The Olympics will be great for inspiring people and we will be able to remake the image that people have of Britain. The lottery has always been there to fund additional projects, and the Olympics is absolutely at the core of that.”

Meanwhile, Big Lottery Fund chief executive Stephen Dunmore said that, with £8.3bn of applications last year, the fund was always going to have to make difficult decisions about how to spend its resources. He stressed that the fund would strive to encourage more partnerships across sectors, saying: “We are not just a funder of the voluntary and community sector.”

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