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From Winter Olympians To Water Voles: How National Lottery Funding Works

Last Updated: Thursday 24th September 2020, 10:58

Every time you buy a National Lottery ticket, 28p from every £1 is set aside for the Good Causes Fund. When there is a high level of participation, more financial support can be given to a range of worthy projects across the UK. But how exactly is this money spent and is it making a difference?

Health, Education, Environment and Charitable Causes

The money is distributed across four broad categories. The first is concerned with Health, Education, Environment and Charitable Causes, and receives 40% of all the funds raised for good causes. This allows vital work to be carried out in medical research and various charities all over the country, such as the Sandwell Young Carers group in West Bromwich.

The group provides support for young people who care for a dependent family member, and has so far received more than £650,000 in funding. Local MP Tom Watson, who visited the group over the festive period, said: “This fantastic charity gives young people the opportunity to find solutions to the challenges they face, improving their confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing."


Sports receive 20% of the money raised from good causes, and these funds aim to help people at both a grassroots level and an elite standard. While the improvements to local fitness centres or sporting clubs are evident in the community, the greatest sign of the funding’s success has perhaps been the way that the UK has performed at recent Olympics.

Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month, over £32 million has been invested by UK Sport via the National Lottery and the Government specifically for these games, which is more than double the investment for the four-year cycle for the previous event in Sochi. UK Sport has a target to make this the team’s most successful Winter Olympics.


The Arts sector is also given 20% of the Good Causes money, helping projects such as Extraordinary Bodies. An integrated circus company, Extraordinary Bodies aims to bring together people in recovery, people with mental health problems, with physical impairments, people who are learning disabled and people living in poverty, to make sure that everyone in society feels valued.

Claire Hodgson, the group’s co-artistic director, said: “I want you to have a sense of the lives being enhanced and transformed when you buy a National Lottery ticket. Funding through National Lottery ticket sales fulfils our dream of making a circus company that shows the beautiful and infinite diversity of humans.”


The remaining 20% goes to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and has benefited thousands of projects. Cambridgeshire ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) has this week received £99,000 in funding to help protect rare and endangered species such as turtle doves and water voles which live either side of the Old West River. “We are particularly grateful to all those local National Lottery players who will now see their community green spaces improved,” said Kirsten Bennett, Cambridgeshire ACRE’s chief executive.

Making A Difference

Over £37 billion has so far been raised for good causes since the National Lottery started, with 525,000 projects benefiting. You can find out more on the Lottery Good Causes page, and know that even if you don’t win this weekend’s big Lotto or EuroMillions jackpot you are still making a difference.

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