Remember when the Government took £425m out of the Big Lottery Fund to help pay for the Olympics in the UK and promised to pay it back – No? Well, that is exactly what they were banking on, but now four whole years on we have the Rio Olympics and guess what? We haven’t forgotten! And we want our money back…
The Big Lottery Fund makes grants to small charities and it is manifestly unfair for them to foot the bill when the Government’s cruel ideologically driven cuts have made the demand for their services soar. UK charities are already awaiting with trepidation the loss of some £200m a year from the EU as Brexit takes place.
The Directory of Social change, which seems to be leading the charge here says, “We maintain that giving back this money now would make a huge difference to organisations and the individuals they serve …at a time when so many people are in need of support.” They are calling on the new Prime Minister, Theresea May, and the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to ensure these funds are reinstated. Theresa May has already said that, “The Lottery should be independent of Government but accountable to Parliament. It should not become a tool of Government”. Let’s see if her words now match her deeds. In other words, can we trust what she says.
The irony is that the Government underspent by some £500m on the London games, and so has been in an excellent position to pay the money back, but hasn’t done so – presumably because it thought no one would notice.
Yes, the Government did say the money would be paid back out of sale of assets, but surely an underspend trumps something that may not happen for many years if ever. The ‘if ever’ does looms rather large when we look at what has actually happened. These days football can’t be kept out of the equation and giving the Olympic Stadium to West Ham Football Club for just £2.9m a year, for 99 years, when it cost over £400m to build may yet again be called into question; as private owners benefit and those who have been forced into dire need find their would-be assistants £400m out of pocket.
Let’s see this money put back into the Big Lottery pocket with haste and an apology.
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