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Lottery Good Causes

Volume 553: debated on Thursday 22 November 2012

9. If she will take steps to accelerate the repayment of moneys taken from lottery good causes funds to support the London 2012 Olympic games; and if she will make a statement. (129113)

The Government have put in place a new legal agreement with the Greater London authority ensuring that the £675 million that the lottery will receive from Olympic park land sales will be returned to the lottery earlier than previously planned.

The point is this: when? The Olympic delivery third quarter report stated that the centrally held contingency funding remaining in the package will be transferred to the national lottery distribution fund for the benefit of lottery good causes. Those good causes, which are being hit by Government cuts and squeezes in philanthropy following the recession, want to know when they will get the money and how much interest they will be paid.

I understand the hon. Lady’s concern with the plans that were put in place by the Government of whom she was a part and the timing of the programme we inherited. That is why we have made sure that the money will be repaid earlier. If she wants further details on that, which is quite complex, perhaps I can write to her.

Lottery funding helped the Olympics to generate unprecedented levels of enthusiasm in sport, and was one of the factors that brought together a community sport group, a school, a college, a local residents group and a developer in my constituency to create a sports park for all who live there. Will the Secretary of State agree to meet representatives of those organisations to see how we can make this dream a reality?

My hon. Friend rightly highlights the important role the Olympics played as a catalyst in making people aware of the importance of having the right facilities available in local areas, and we have made it one of the key parts of our legacy programme to make sure those facilities flourish. I would be happy to hear more about the initiative my hon. Friend mentions.

Taking money from lottery-supported good causes was about the worst possible way to pay for the Olympics. The Secretary of State now has the opportunity to put this right. There is a £377 million underspend. Will she now pledge to return that money to good causes as soon as possible?

I have to disagree with the hon. Gentleman. I think the role the lottery played in the delivery of the Olympics was absolutely right. He raises an important point, however, about rebalancing the lottery. As he will know, we have already put measures in place to do that and to bring forward this important repayment.