Mps To Investigate Drop In Lottery Spend On Good Causes

A parliament inquiry is being launched into Lottery operator Camelot after it was revealed the company’s profits more than doubled during the same period in which money for good causes rose by just 2%.

An investigation by the National Audit Office into Lottery funding for good causes found that in the seven years between 2009/10 and 2016/17, Camelot’s profits increased by 122% to £71 million, while returns for good causes only rose by 2%, to £31 million.

Money for good causes is allocated to arts, sports and heritage projects, as well as other charitable causes.

The report was commissioned to investigate the fall of National Lottery income for good causes in 2016/17, when it decreased by 15% on the previous year to £1.63 billion.

This reversed a trend that had seen the figure rise consistently since 2004/5, and came alongside a 9% drop in Lottery sales in 2016/17.

The findings of the investigation have prompted the parliament’s public accounts committee to launch an inquiry, beginning work in the new year.

MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, said: “Profits increasing while money for good causes falls goes against the spirit of the [National Lottery etc] Act. We need to dig into how such a huge increase in profits can happen.”

The 2016/17 drop in ticket sales is likely to continue, Camelot has said, meaning money going to Lottery-supported projects will also fall.

The first two quarters of the year both returned smaller sums for good causes than their respective quarters last year.

The NAO’s report claims that the method of calculating returns for good causes does not reflect recent changes in sales across different types of games, for example the decline in draw-based games, compared with instant win games such as scratchcards.

Arts Council England is one of the six largest distributors of money for good causes, handing out 20% of the total fund, with the Heritage Lottery Fund the biggest distributor at 32%.

The NAO’s report found that the six largest distributors increased their overall funding commitments by £88 million in 2016/17, the same period in which income for good causes fell by 15%.

A spokeswoman for the Arts Council said: “There have always been fluctuations in income which we manage so that we can still support thousands of great projects across England.

“The National Lottery still generates £30 million every week for good causes and local projects and has raised an incredible £37 billion to date.”

Responding to the report, a spokesman for Camelot said it had carried out a “wide-ranging strategic review of the business”, after the 2016/17 figures were first published earlier this year.

The company also pledged to “get the National Lottery back into growth next year and [raise] as much money as possible for good causes”.

The spokesman stressed that more than 525,000 awards had been made with the money since the Lottery’s inception in 1994, and that 95% of Lottery revenue goes back to winners and into grants.

“Since the start of our third operating licence in 2009, returns to winners and society have increased by almost £1.8 billion, while shareholder profit has increased by just £26 million over the same period. In addition, our shareholder has invested £181 million in capital expenditure – £98 million more than the amount set out in its third licence business plan,” he said.

Arts funding fears as Lottery cash plunges £77m

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