NCVO and Acevo have stepped up calls for “urgent clarification” from the government over rumoured cuts to the Big Lottery Fund’s income, warning that the funder could be forced to "effectively shut its doors to new bids for the next three years".
Earlier this month an anonymous campaign group warned that BIG faced a reduction in its share of the National Lottery’s good causes income from 40 per cent to 22 per cent – a cut of £320m per year - when the spending review is announced this week.
Last week Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, wrote to Oliver Letwin, Cabinet Office minister, and Sir Stephen Bubb wrote to George Osborne, Chancellor, asking for clarification about the rumour.
The Treasury said it will not comment until after the spending review announcement on Wednesday.
Over the weekend the two organisations issued a joint press release and shared the letters that were sent to ministers.
The statement warned that: “Given the Big Lottery Fund's existing future commitments, this would mean that it would effectively shut its doors to new bids for the next three years.”
NCVO has launched a data tool that people can use to find out how BIG has supported projects in their area and is urging its members to email their MP.
Etherington’s letter told Letwin that: “The nature of BLF’s funds are such that many grants are committed years in advance. As such, I would be very concerned that a reduction of the size being reported in BLF’s share of National Lottery income could mean it all but closes its doors to new funding applications.”
Threat to additionality principle
Etherington warned that if the mooted cuts take place, with a view to compensating sports and arts organisations, it threatens the principle that lottery funding should be additional to public funding.
In a statement he said: “The Lottery was founded and has always been operated on the principle that it adds to rather than replaces public funding. This would be a clear breach of that principle.
“It would be hugely damaging to the Lottery if players saw it as financing a government slush fund to compensate for spending cuts. This feels a very long way from the Big Society at a time when we need it more than ever."
Bubb added that smaller charities would be most affected by the move:
“It would be catastrophic if the proposed slashing of Big Lottery Fund grants goes ahead. It would undermine smaller community charities and organisations,” he said. “Few communities in the UK have not benefited from lottery good-cause money. It is hard to believe that David Cameron would endorse a decision which would fall so heavily upon the most needy.”