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Olympic Threat To Charities

Last Updated: Monday 15th January 2007, 13:35 pm

It has been reported that the charitable works of the UK National Lottery could come under heavy pressure if the British government decides to use lottery funds to help breach a yawning gap in its 2012 Olympic budget. Sources say that the construction bill for the games looks likely to be around £3.3 billion - some 38% higher than the sum originally planned for, leaving a shortfall of around £900 million.

Sir Clive Booth, Chairman of The Big Lottery Fund, spoke last night on Channel 4 News about the problems charities might face if the government chooses to use lottery funds to help cover some of the 2012 Olympic shortfall. He said that the government, "just assume that the lottery is this enormous pot of money which keeps generating huge amounts of cash, and that you can just help yourself to some of it, and that there are no adverse consequences."

But, as Sir Clive also stated, there are consequences. The Big Lottery Fund, which is one of more than a dozen groups working to distribute lottery funds, has an annual budget of £630 million and in 2006 alone helped 86,000 good causes. If the amount of money to be distributed is reduced - as it obviously would be should the government use some of it to go towards Olympic construction costs - the number of good causes supported will also be reduced.

Sir Clive's warning was supported by a number of politicians. Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture Secretary, said: "The Lottery is already funding a large proportion of Olympic costs. Any further raids of Lottery cash could seriously damage funding for arts, heritage, sports and charities.

"We all agreed the Lottery should bare the burden of some of the costs of these Games, but it must not be seen as a Treasury slush fund for Olympic overruns. What we need is a new budget independently audited, with a full public discussion on those figures, including a debate in Parliament."

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