Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Local Government Association

  1.  Much of the subject of this inquiry relates to areas which are outside the remit of local government or for which the Local Government Association has no strong views. This submission does not comment on the majority of the areas outlined by the terms of reference.

  2.  The final bullet point, relating to the level of funds for the good causes, however, is of considerable importance to local government and is the sole focus of this written evidence.

  3.  We recognise that this inquiry is about the broader concept of defining the good causes and is not about evaluating the performance of the distributors. Nevertheless, at this stage in the Lottery's history, it is difficult to divorce the two. The LGA would encourage the Committee not to be swayed from its stated terms of reference by the successes or controversies of previous awards by any of the distributors.

  4.  The key questions are:

    (1)  the extent to which the Lottery has changed the funding landscape in each of the good cause sectors and;

    (2)  whether future priorities in these areas outweigh competing claims in sectors not currently represented.

  5.  The National Lottery has made a considerable contribution to the cultural (using the word in its widest sense) infrastructure of the UK. More recently the New Opportunities Fund has contributed to the areas of health, education and environment. As we argue below, however, there is still considerable need for further funding and especially a substantial outstanding capital need.

  6.  Many local authorities have benefited from the Lottery either as direct grant recipients or through awards made to key partners. In turn, local authorities have supported Lottery bids either as matching funders or as advisors to grant applicants and distributors. At a national strategic level, the LGA has developed a dialogue with each of the distributing bodies.

  7.  The original concept of the Lottery was that it should fund additional work to that which would be covered by ordinary exchequer spending. Although some recent programmes have stretched this concept (NOF programmes particularly) additionality still remains at the heart of the Lottery and should inform future developments.

  8.  In local government, the distinction between statutory and discretionary spending is clear (indeed so much so that the LGA argues for greater flexibility for local authorities to determine local need). For the most part, the areas covered by the Lottery—arts, sports, heritage, some work with the voluntary sector and even some elements of education, health and environment spending—are those which are discretionary for local government.

  9.  Although these areas of spending are discretionary, this has not prevented local government from being a strong supporter of these sectors. In part this has been assisted by the Lottery which has enabled local authorities to support projects where otherwise funding partners would be lacking, particularly in capital projects.

  10.  The disadvantage of discretionary spending is that it is vulnerable to outside forces. These forces include the passporting of funds as determined by central government or a lack of matching support from elsewhere in the mixed economy (a shortage of private partners, for example). If the good causes were redefined and taken away from the discretionary areas supported by local government this could have a catastrophic knock-on effect. Local authorities which currently choose to direct resources to projects where there is the possibility of direct or indirect support from Lottery resources, are likely to shy away from supporting such projects entirely.

  11.  The Lottery has had a great impact on the cultural infrastructure but there is still more to do. It is the case that:

    —  The Lottery came on stream at a time when the good cause sectors had experienced years of under-funding—particularly for capital projects. Despite the in-roads which the Lottery has made, Sport England estimate that there is £3 billion worth of capital work outstanding on local authority leisure centre refurbishment alone. The additional costs for arts, heritage, libraries and other parts of the cultural sector would push this figure far higher.

    —  Monitoring of the Lottery has determined that not all areas of the UK or types of project or applicant have been able to access funds. In the light of the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal, and other strands of work relating to inclusion, altering the emphasis of the Lottery at this stage would result in the failure to deliver many of the Government's key objectives. The roles of arts, sports, the voluntary sectors and so on in reaching excluded groups and individuals is increasingly well-documented. Without continuing Lottery support many of these projects would not get off the ground.

  12.  Each of the Lottery distributors review their programmes and strategic direction and it is right that they should revise their programmes in view of current need. Many of their programmes are already developing into "cross-cutting" or cross-sectoral initiatives which aim to deliver government-defined outcomes. Redefining the good causes at this stage seems likely to derail programmes which are beginning to see results but for which no alternative means of support exists.

  13.  The LGA has argued in the past (at the time of the CSR 1998) that the funding which currently goes to the Millennium Commission should be redistributed equally to the original good causes after the Commission is wound up. If this funding is to be directed to the New Opportunities Fund (as has been reported), the LGA would be doubtful of this as the best course. Unless, that is, the future programmes of NOF build on cross-sectoral initiatives (such as their current streams for libraries or green spaces) which benefit the cultural and voluntary sectors.

  14.  We recommend to the Committee that the existing good causes should continue to receive Lottery funds and preferably in the same proportions as at present.

October 2000

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