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Outrage as hundreds of millions in unspent Olympics contingency set to go back to the Treasury, not to lottery good causes that were raided to help pay for the Games.
Today's financial report from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport states that £377 million in unspent contingency from the Olympics budget will be handed over to the Treasury. Government coffers are set to benefit from the funds before lottery good causes, which were raided to help finance the Games.
Controversially billions in lottery revenues have gone to support the building of the Olympics infrastructure – much of this money should otherwise have been available to support charitable good causes across the UK. 3000 charities have now joined the Big Lottery Refund campaign, aiming to get £425 million of this raided cash refunded to the Big Lottery Fund, which supports charities and community groups doing vital work in communities. A letter-writing campaign to MPs and Ministers has been underway for months.
Jay Kennedy, Head of Policy at the Directory of Social Change (DSC), which is leading the campaign, said ‘when the last Government decided to raid the Lottery to pay for the Olympics, it was criticised by both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The Conservative party in particular pointed out that charities and grassroots groups would suffer as a result. They were right – but sadly it now looks like those were empty words. It’s outrageous that the Coalition Government is on track to perpetrate the travesty they previously denounced.’
He added, ‘The Olympics have been extraordinarily successful and well-managed, and as a result there is significant cash remaining in the budget. By rights this should go back to the lottery good causes which have sacrificed to support the Games. But the Government’s position appears to be that the Exchequer will benefit at their expense. It’s almost as though charity money has been routed through the Olympics, back to the Government. A great deal for the Government, but a sad day for charities and the millions of people they help.’
DSC has developed a website, www.biglotteryrefund.org.uk, to unite supporters in the campaign to get £425m of the lottery money returned to charities and voluntary groups. The campaign continues – people are urged to sign up as supporters, and to write to Ministers and their MPs.