Opinion: Hot issue - Should lottery money top up public spending?

Lotteries minister Richard Caborn told Parliament last week that the public wasn't interested in the question of 'additionality'. Graham Willgoss took to the streets and asked a quartet of members of the public to comment.

YES - MICHAEL BAVERSTOCK, painter and decorator, Newcastle upon Tyne

It is of concern to the public, and I'd like to know more about exactly where the money goes.

A lot of it goes to the opera and things like that, which doesn't benefit the whole community - if it goes towards the NHS, it does. Everybody gets ill - nine out of ten people will have to go to hospital at some point.

But nine out of ten people don't go to the opera or many of the other causes lottery money is frequently spent on. The money should be put towards something more people can benefit from.

A lot of people play the lottery, and I think the amount that goes to good causes should be a little bit more, especially if it is used to support absolutely necessary services such as the NHS.

If the money is there to be used, why not use it where it is most needed?

Newcastle General Hospital is being closed down and lottery money is only going to keep piling up anyway, so why not use it for new equipment, new beds and new wards to keep the hospital open?

YES - HEATHER LYALL, trainee paediatric nurse, Kent

I think money should be used where it is needed, regardless of whether the funds that the Government uses to pay for the services it provides come from people who play the lottery or from taxpayers. Perhaps the most effective solution is a combination of the two.

Rather than relying solely on the taxpayer to support, say, the NHS, why not use lottery money to buy equipment health services need? It can provide a hospital with expensive equipment, such as MRI scanners, and it does so without further burdening the already overstretched government budget.

People would complain if taxes were increased so the NHS could be better supported - using lottery money is an alternative to that.

With the NHS, the public needs to understand that, yes, taxpayers' money does go there, but not necessarily in the areas it needs to go to. Lottery money can plug those holes, but as long as they are plugged, it doesn't matter where it comes from.

YES - DAVID SHOVELAR, pipefitter, London

Of course the public would like to know where its money is going. You spend the money on a lottery ticket and you think, hang on, the money is going somewhere, and I'd like to know where it goes. To say that we have little concern or interest in it is absolute rubbish.

Most of what you see of lottery funding doesn't go to causes that have a genuine need for it. You watch TV programmes and you see how much money is spent on what I would call wasteful projects, when it could easily go to things such as healthier school dinners, supporting the NHS or to the victims of the London bombings of 7 July, for example.

It should go to things that don't currently come up to scratch. I don't mind that lottery money can be used to supplement state-funded services - the quality of school dinners is absolutely terrible, and it should be used for things like that - but it should also be used to fund what I would call more local projects, and I would also like to see more money spent on local communities.

NO - ROSIE CAMPBELL, student, Isle of Wight

There are so many other good causes that do not receive state funding, so it seems unfair that the Government takes lottery money to fund things that it is responsible for when it should be funded by tax. That's what taxes are supposed to be for.

Lottery money should go to underprivileged people and communities that, for whatever reason, do not get the support they need and cannot raise the money themselves.

Although using it for things such as curricular activities for schoolchildren is a worthwhile cause, there are other causes the Government doesn't recognise as being important enough to support through taxpayers' money but which still desperately need funding.

A lottery grant is a good way for charities to use public money that is being voluntarily contributed as part of buying a lottery ticket, but if the money is being taken by the Government then I think the public should be more aware about it.

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