Danger of default on Government Olympic debt to communities as campaigners mark ‘three year anniversary of shame’
Three years on from the end of London 2012 and £425 million in raided lottery cash owed to charities and communities across the UK has not been repaid, and the new Government has gone silent on the issue.
In 2007 the Labour government diverted £425 million from the Big Lottery Fund to help finance the ballooning Olympics budget. Following outrage from charities and many MPs, the government pledged to repay the debt after the Olympics from the sale of Olympics assets – a pledge subsequently reaffirmed by the Coalition.
However government ministers have continued to drag their feet on the issue – repeatedly suggesting that repayment may take until 2030 or beyond. Despite repeated requests the new Conservative Government has refused to make a statement on this issue. The Directory of Social Change (DSC) has led the Big Lottery Refund campaign, supported by over 3800 charities, which aims for an immediate return of the lottery cash.
Jay Kennedy, Director of Policy and Research at DSC said ‘August 12 marks a three-year anniversary of shame – London 2012 ended in a spectacular blaze of glory but for charities the fireworks have well and truly faded away. £425 million in Lottery cash was raided from charities and community groups across the UK to support the Olympics and this debt has yet to be paid back. In fact, it’s over three months since the new Government took office and they have so far refused to respond to appeals from Big Lottery Refund campaign supporters. They are dragging their heels – we simply have no idea whether this new Government will honour the massive debt it owes to Britain’s charities. We need this money paid back now, not in 2030.’
He went on to say that ‘thousands of charities lost funding because this money went missing from one of our sector’s most important grant-makers. A repayment of that money would enable the Big Lottery Fund to make grants to an additional 10,000 charities, improving the lives of approximately eight million people across the UK, at a time when government funding cuts are leaving people with great uncertainty for the future.’
Kennedy concluded with a call to the new Government: ‘David Cameron has a massive opportunity to redress this wrong, to support vulnerable people and vital causes across the UK, and it need not impact the government balance sheet. In the past his ministers have said they are confident that the money will be eventually paid back, but since the General Election they have said nothing. They should pay back the Big Lottery Fund immediately, and take on the role of creditor for repayment from assets sales. This could help tens of thousands of charities and millions of people during very difficult times.’
For more information please contact Ciaran Price, Directory of Social Change by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (020 7697 4295).
Notes to editors:
- Founded in 1974, the Directory of Social Change (DSC) is a national charity which supports an independent voluntary sector through campaigning, training and publications. DSC is the largest supplier of information and training to the voluntary sector, and its work helps tens of thousands of organisations every year achieve their aims. Learn more at www.dsc.org.uk
- DSC runs the Big Lottery Refund campaign, supported by over 3800 charities and individuals. More information, including political and technical background, sign-up page, campaign actions for supporters, and other resources can be found at www.biglotteryrefund.org.uk