Third Sector debate: Has the lottery been 'captured'?

Three more viewpoints and a case study are the latest contributions to our discussion about additionality.


John Crossman is assistant chief executive of ContinYou, one of the UK's leading community learning charities. He gives his first-hand experience of 'additionality'

ContinYou was closely involved with the Out of School Hours Learning programme, which was originally set up by the New Opportunities Fund, now absorbed into the Big Lottery Fund.

The results were impressive - the scheme brought in pupils who would not normally have participated. For the first time, schools considered OSHL as part of their planning. This has continued after the lottery funding finished.

OSHL is now in the development plans of most schools. Evaluations have shown it can have dramatic benefits, including improved attendance, attitudes and attainment. The success of the OSHL programme has also led to a change in the policy framework itself. Activities beyond the classroom are increasingly being seen as an essential part of learning for children and young people.

In time, these will become part of an entitlement that is funded by government.

Lottery funding in this area added value both to schools and to the experience of young people. For society in general, learning beyond the classroom is now recognised and valued. The experiment of lottery funding has left a legacy of understanding, knowledge and experience. Whether this type of activity should remain outside statutory funding is a real question, one that would not have been posed in recent years.

Lottery funding for regeneration, crime reduction and health promotion can also be used to fund activities for children. All this adds up to real additionality.


Has the concept of additionality become meaningless? The word itself is certainly of dubious provenance. A glance at an old dictionary proves it: "The principle that the EC contributes to the funding of a project ... provided that the member country also contributes." That's Eurospeak for "supplementary to, and not instead of, publicly funded services" - precisely the work that voluntary and community organisations do best.

Solving shortfalls in public finances with lottery money certainly fails the additionality test and is at best a quick fix that only masks the real issue. If we want sustainable and European-quality public services, then we need sustainable, European levels of state funding. This requires the Government to initiate a balanced and principled debate about the levels of taxation the public will bear.

Phrased another way, nobody wants the Big Lottery Fund to spend its money on desks and chairs for classrooms, mattresses and sheets for hospitals or locks and keys for prisons. Everybody wants lottery money to support local community centres, community transport schemes, education projects for travellers' children and action to prevent young homelessness - and that is to name but a few of the vast number of worthwhile causes.

In the 21st century, partnerships at local level are central to the way the voluntary and community sector works. We run joint projects with local government and the local NHS. We work closely with the Probation Service to prevent reoffending. We take part in multi-agency regeneration schemes to tackle deprivation on the worst estates. We want flexibility in the way resources are used to tackle the most important local problems. We want pooled budgets and seamless services.

In short, we don't want the Big Lottery Fund to do the Government's job by subsidising public services. But we do want flexible partnership arrangements that meet real local needs.


Ten years ago, when the National Lottery was still young, I visited Mark Stein at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Stein had researched the management of lotteries around the world and had come to an unequivocal conclusion - that lotteries were always eventually taken over by government.

This pattern looks set to be repeated.

Research commissioned by the Community Foundation last year show that Community Fund awards in the north east have fallen from £14m to £7m.

The lottery is no longer the valuable generalist funder of yesteryear.

I've admired the way the old National Lottery Charities Board worked hard in the north east to develop practices that were responsive to local needs and took account of high levels of deprivation. I fear that this local intelligence will disappear in the current drive to streamline the process.

In my view, it's a false economy.

The trouble with additionality is that no one has ever told me with absolutely certainty what government should fund. There may be a case for targeting funding in ways that complement government programmes, but these decisions should be made by independent boards that can weigh up all the options - they should not be prescribed in Whitehall.

Writing in last week's Third Sector, Tessa Jowell admitted that lottery money is not government money but "belongs to the people of Britain who play the lottery". I struggle with this idea of popularism. If I place a bet with a bookie, should I expect to have any say on what he does with my stake? The people of Britain play the lottery in the vain hope of winning a fortune - not because they want to support good causes.

In 100 years time, we might look back at the lottery as a temporary phenomenon that ran its course when everyone realised the odds of winning were too high and there were far better ways of supporting local causes that could not be influenced by government. By that time, community foundations around the country will have grown steadily and become the obvious vehicle for everyone's charitable giving.


It's time to go back to the original principles. Additionality matters because the independence of the voluntary and charitable sector can only be preserved if it has access to resources that don't come from the Government as a quid pro quo for the delivery of services (with the accompanying silence that such contracts inevitably buy).

The National Lottery is the largest potential source of such funding.

But with the connivance of some short-sighted people in the charitable sector, the Government has successfully 'captured' significant parts of the sector - not by stick, but by carrot and cunning.

The carrot came in the form of enticing contracts that in effect tied organisations into the Government's agenda, turning the organisations that 'bit' into delivery agents for government - and in effect muzzled any tendency to independent critical comment on policy.

The cunning came in moving to hijack resources previously committed to the charitable sector by merging the New Opportunities Fund and the Community Fund, thereby making it more difficult to see clearly what was going on.

But the school meals debacle gave the game away. No amount of wriggling by ministers can conceal the fact that this was a naked raid by the Government on resources intended for the sector - this was not one of Stephen Dunmore's "grey areas".

The nature of statutory responsibilities will constantly shift, of course.

But the starting point should be that the lottery should never pay for things that most people would recognise as the responsibility of government and are financed by the taxpayer - regardless of whether government is actually fulfilling that responsibility or not.

This is about keeping the funds to pay for, and preserve, the independent critical voice of the sector in a pluralist democracy.

We lose that voice at our peril. The Big Lottery Fund board and staff have a heavy responsibility to do their part in nurturing what remains of it.

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