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House of Commons Hansard
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National Lottery Funding: Charities
21 December 2017
Volume 633
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2. What steps her Department is taking to ensure that the level of National Lottery funding for charities is maintained. [903076]

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May I start by wishing you and Members of the whole House a happy Christmas, Mr Speaker? wWe are working with Camelot and the Gambling Commission to ensure that returns to good causes are as high as possible for the future, and with the lottery distributors to highlight the link between playing the lottery and supporting good causes.

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Merry Christmas to you, Mr Speaker, and to everyone else. I thank the Minister for her answer. Charities doing important work across the country depend on the money they are awarded by lottery distributors, but due to the fall last year and the expected fall next year of lottery income for good causes, distributors may not be able to meet their financial commitments. The Government have already agreed to underwrite any shortfall for UK Sport. Will the Minister now commit to doing so for other funding bodies?

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We are working with the Gambling Commission and Camelot to review their strategy, to ensure that there is no continuous fall in lottery funding. The national lottery has raised more than £37 billion for good causes since it started in 1994. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman’s own constituency has received £35 million across 400 lottery grants. Clearly, every Member of this House has an interest in making sure that the national lottery is a success. May I encourage everybody to go out and buy a ticket?

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May I wish you, Mr Speaker, and everybody else a happy Christmas too? It is not only the national lottery that provides invaluable funding for charities and good causes; so, too, do society lotteries. Last week we had an excellent Westminster Hall debate about society lotteries, and it was clear that there was cross-party support for reform. Will my hon. Friend commit to looking at society lottery reforms at the earliest possible opportunity in the new year?

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As my hon. Friend has said, we had an excellent debate last week in Westminster Hall. The answer to her question then and now is yes.

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Since my election in 2016 I have held funding advice surgeries twice a year to encourage charities in my constituency to gain lottery funding. One of the reasons for that is that the Big Lottery told me that it receives a very small number of applications from my constituency. What more can the Minister do to get the lottery out into constituencies such as mine to enable charities to access the funds and to help them with applications?

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That is an excellent idea. I encourage the hon. Gentleman to write to colleagues across the House to explain how he set that up in his constituency and how they can benefit from doing the same.

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Happy Christmas to you, Mr Speaker, and to my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne), who does not seem to have any Christmas spirit.

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Humbug!

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Does the Minister agree that national lottery funding should also be made available to smaller charities? Although they may help fewer people, in my constituency of Wealden there are very few options for vulnerable young and old people. In particular, clued-up.info in Crowborough helps teenagers; Sussex Oakleaf in Hailsham helps people with mental health issues; and the Now! Charity Group provides furniture for unemployed people and those on low income across East Sussex.

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I join my hon. Friend in congratulating the small charities in her constituency. Small charities provide a huge benefit in their locations. We celebrated the work of small charities on Local Charities Day last Friday, and we will continue to do all we can to support them in the future.

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I thank the Minister for her responses so far. Will she further outline whether she intends to oversee a more streamlined approach to administration, which would allow more funding to go to charities, and how would she envisage such a scheme?

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We look at administration issues all the time. This was reviewed recently and I am sure it will be a key part of the conversation as we take forward the next licence discussion.

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I would like to announce to the House that the Commonwealth games have just been awarded to Birmingham. As you know, Mr Speaker, the lottery provides vital support for sport, which is why it is so disturbing that this week the National Audit Office published a report saying that since 2009, lottery income for good causes has risen by just 2%, while the shareholder profits of the lottery licence holder, Camelot, have risen by 122%. Does the Minister think that those ratios seem fair? Will grassroots sport and the Commonwealth games be secure for lottery funding in the future?

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The cheek of the hon. Gentleman! We did all hard work on the Commonwealth games, along with Mayor Andy Street. It was announced formally at 9.30 this morning in Birmingham. I was pleased to sign the host city contract and I am pleased that we will hold the Commonwealth games in 2022. Obviously, the hon. Gentleman’s constituency will benefit from that, as will we all. Turning to the substance of his question, the Secretary of State and I are not unsympathetic to the points he made.