Blondel Cluff, chief executive of the West India Committee charity, has been named as the new chair of the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF).
Cluff, an academic and lawyer, was previously chair of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s London and South Committee.
She replaces Tony Burton, who left NLCF in 2020 after eight years on the board, including six months as interim chair.
The appointment is for four years, and comes with pay of £40,000 a year.
The history of the West India Committee
Cluff is a solicitor and a Fellow at Kings College London. She is chief executive of the West India Committee, a Commonwealth representative organisation founded in 1735, and will stay in this role while chairing the NLCF.
According to the charity’s website, the “original members of WIC were the sugar merchants of London and the planters of the Caribbean whose interests were largely aligned with the pro-slavery movement that prevailed at the time”.
In a letter on the site, Cluff acknowledges that “the WIC inevitably attracts a negative reaction from those for whom the era of slavery continues to cast an indelible shadow upon West Indian society”.
Work with government
Cluff also sits on the prime minister’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, and is a member of the group which advises the Home Office on its Windrush Compensation Scheme, established to help British citizens from Commonwealth families affected by restrictive immigration policies.
That scheme has been criticised by some charities over revelations that only a tiny proportion of its funds have reached victims of the Windrush scandal.
Cluff was previously the government of Anguilla's representative to the UK and European Union, and received a CBE in 2018.
A difficult year
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Over the past year, the NLCF has distributed hundreds of millions of pounds to support our dedicated charities playing a huge role in the national effort against coronavirus, providing a lifeline to vulnerable people across the country.
“I am delighted to appoint Blondel as its new chair.
“Her extensive background in charity and community work means she is ideally placed to ensure Lottery funding helps us build back stronger from the pandemic and reflects the needs of people right across the UK.”
Cluff said: “Communities are the very lifeblood of a nation and, as such, I am honoured to have the opportunity to support them as chair of the NLCF at such an important time for us all.”
Cluff takes up the role after a difficult year for NLCF, during which it was criticised over “dither and delay” in distributing emergency coronavirus funding, a process which eventually took more than seven months.
In August it emerged that the government had taken on auditors from PwC to “vet” NLCF decisions on emergency grants.
NLCF is still recruiting for a chief executive.