Threat to Lottery independence

The Community Fund has criticised a government proposal to appoint regional politicians onto Lottery grant-giving boards as it could threaten the integrity and independence of Lottery funding.

"The more political representatives are appointed on to regional Community Fund committees, the more they will come to resemble just another branch of local government," said Boni Sones, head of public affairs at the Community Fund. "At present we are proud that our regional committees are selected by open advertisement and have service users on them."

The Lottery distributor is so concerned about the Government proposals contained in a White Paper and referred to by the Lottery Green Paper that it has called for a public debate on the future of Lottery funding.

The White Paper on regional government in England contains the proposal of nominating "democratically appointed" councillors on to regional Lottery awards committees. This proposal was also taken up by the recent Lottery Green Paper.

Sones argued that the Community Fund already had a very good record of community involvement so additional measures were unnecessary. "We passionately believe that we have made a difference to people's lives. We need to retain an independent national Lottery funding stream so that we can get to the most needy parts of society," she said.

The Green Paper also suggested that more Lottery distributors should channel statutory, as well as non-statutory, funding. Sports England and the devolved Arts Councils already carry government funding as well as Lottery cash, but the Community and Heritage Lottery Fund have up until now distributed Lottery money only.

Calling for a public debate on the future of the Lottery, Sones said: "We need to decide if, and to what extent, statutory and non-statutory funding are to be merged.

"The Community Fund is very open-minded but at which point do the funding streams become indistinguishable?"

A Government spokesman said none of the proposals were set in stone but were "merely ideas".

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