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?