The ideology behind changes to National Lottery funding is sound but the logic isn’t

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed yesterday what the sector has been expecting for a while: the Big Lottery Fund’s share of National Lottery good cause money will be cut from 50 per cent to 40 per cent and arts, sports and heritage groups will increase their share to 60 per cent.

The logic behind the move, among those in Whitehall, is that the voluntary sector will get more if the BLF stops funding projects deemed to be “politicised”. The term presumably refers to the eight per cent of BLF funds that currently go to public sector projects.
It sounds good for the government to say it will stop using lottery money to fund projects that should be funded by the state. After-school clubs and cancer screenings were examples given by a civil servant when asked what sort of services the new government felt the BLF should never have given grants to.
But the first problem is that the sums don’t add up: under the new system the amount of its income the BLF will lose is likely to be greater than its spending on public sector projects, so other cuts will have to be made.
And it also seems unlikely, in the current economic climate, that the government will in fact step in with new money for those public sector bodies that will lose BLF funding – those that provide services that it says should be funded by the state.
Perhaps ministers are really hoping the voluntary sector will get them off the hook by picking up the slack when these services fall by the wayside. But doesn’t that make a mockery of the whole logic?

4 Responses to “The ideology behind changes to National Lottery funding is sound but the logic isn’t”

  1. James Renton


    I could not agree more, there is toal lack of clarity and thought being put into the whole process and the VCS is not doing its research!
    I have already stated on another blog that the majority of BLF funding to the statutory sector goes to schools and parish councils. The example about an after-schools club is bizarre what is wrong with this? These are not statutory services they just take place in statutory settings. Most are run by volunteers and need pump-priming? Is the argument when a schools applies its bad when a charity applies its good?

  2. Mark Atkinson

    Interesting article. I don’t think the trend is limited to chief execs either. It would be good to know the root cause of these payouts. In many instances, I think such payouts are attributable to 2 scenarios.

    1. Payouts as a means of getting rid of an individual when better management practices would have given rise to more appropriate disciplinary measures. This is usually due to inadequately resourced HR teams and / or poorly trained managers.
    2. Payouts as a result of botched redundancies. This is usually due to pressure from above to implement change without production of an appropriate business case; often in conjunction with inadequately resourced HR teams to counsel the senior management.

    Mark Atkinson

  3. A Smith

    There’s a third category (at least); pay off’s to high performing staff simply because their face doesn’t fit. When this happens – and it does – it’s a disgusting abuse of publicly donated funds simply to appease insecure colleagues/board members. Oh, the world of ‘charity’ !

  4. Gina Cottey

    My personal experience certainly reflects the sentiments in this article. I ‘fell’ into an administration job in the third sector soon after graduation and, although I learned a huge amount, I was so frustrated by the lack of progression opportunities that I felt I had to leave. Now, having just returned from a couple of years teaching abroad, I’d love to find my way back in but it seems organisations are only looking for experienced professionals. I feel my only option is to develop my career in the private sector with the hope of moving into the third sector years down the line.


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