On the local news on BBC Television this morning there was an excited headline announcing that “Good Causes” in the East Midlands had received a billion pounds from the lottery since 1994. On the face of it, this appears to be great news for the voluntary and community sector. The public’s perception of the lottery is that it supports these local voluntary and community groups.
However, on watching more of the report, it became clearer that the definition of “Good Causes” in lottery-speak extends a long way beyond the voluntary and community groups who have had some of this funding and includes a great deal of money for individuals; competitors at the Beijing Olympics, and I would guess all the other Olympic games held over the 14 years since 1994. I do not begrude these elite athletes the money that they have had to support their gruelling training and other costs, but I do resent the way that the lottery has been marketed as support for communities and charities, while we have to share with an increasing range of other “good causes”. I also object to the way that the 2012 Olympics have been eating into the pot of money that many ordinary ticket buyers still believe goes to voluntary, community and charitable groups. The reality is that it is getting harder and harder for such groups to get lottery funding.
Indeed, a quick google finds that the UK’s Official Graduate Careers website notes, “Arts and culture causes have increased in popularity, largely due to National Lottery funding”.
I would also suggest that the availability of lottery funding may have made it easier for some of the traditional funders of the voluntary and community sector to shirk their responsibilities.
OK, I have to declare an interest here. I work in the voluntary sector here in the East Midlands and I care passionately about its sustainability, (and I admit that I cannot completely ignore concerns about funding for my own job).
Nevertheless a billion pounds is a LOT of money, isn’t it? Shouldn’t that be enough for those of us in the voluntary sector to share with these other “good causes” in the East Midlands? Why am I even raising this as an issue?
It was the very next story on BBC Breakfast this morning that made me question whether that billion over 14 years was as generous as the BBC’s story would have us believe. This story was the main national headline that the British government had just announced a couple of different bail-out packages for the banks that appeared to total 150 billion pounds.
I have to wonder why the globalised banking industry whose management appears to have been so inept as to have reached the edge of collapse is judged to be worth the level of funding that it would take the East Midlands 2100 years to receive.
Perhaps we should re-brand the voluntary and community sector as as a “The Bank Of The East Midlands” and hold out our hands for the easy money.