The Government is trying to take the credit for returning lottery money it never should have taken in the first place, and then claiming a victory for its delivery of the Olympic Legacy through an initiative it didn’t set up. Join the Big Lottery Refund campaign.
We’re still fighting to get your £425 million back!
By Jay Kennedy
DSC Director of Policy and Research
Posted 23 July 2013
With only days to go until the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony there has been much talk and debate about ‘legacy’. The Big Lottery Refund is alive and kicking and has been back in the news again.
First we had another announcement from Sports Minister Hugh Robertson MP that the ‘savings’ on the Olympics budget have been even greater than forecast last autumn - the Government now says that even MORE MONEY – £528 million as opposed to £377 million – will be going back to the Treasury’s coffers.
So why did they need to underwrite the Games with hundreds of millions in raided lottery cash, if they managed to spend so much less, you ask? And why don’t they pay off these borrowed funds, which they never should have taken in the first place, as a first priority? A perfectly reasonable question, surely? See our response in the Daily Telegraph here.
The Government is sticking to their line that most of the money they raided from charities to help pay for the Games won’t be coming back until the 2020s or later. Their argument boils down to this: we saved £528 million in Government’s cash, but spent most of the Lottery’s cash on assets, which will be sold to pay back the Lottery at some point. But these same assets are now being leased to the private sector for 100 or 200 years – i.e. not sold off to repay the sacrifices made by tens of thousands of charities as they promised. Plain wrong!
Shortly after the announcement of the savings a joint report from the Government and the Mayor of London on the Olympics Legacy was published. In an unusually twisted case of media-spin-doublespeak, this report presents the Spirit of 2012 Trust, a completely independent initiative of the Big Lottery Fund, as one of their ‘headline achievements’ on Olympic legacy.
The trust is due to start funding projects in September with an allocation of existing Big Lottery Fund money, and will support a range of causes including ‘maintaining the commitment and energy of London 2012 volunteers’ and ‘promoting greater understanding of the issues facing disabled people’.
Its estimated £30-40 million endowment fund originates from the complicated deal to fund the multi-billion cost of the Athlete’s Village on the Olympic Park. Original plans to finance it with private investment collapsed during the economic crisis of 2008 and the Treasury had to step in to cover much of the cost.
What is less well known is that the last Government also made an additional and largely unpublicised raid on the Lottery to fund the Village rescue package, understood to be around £70 million. As a result of the Big Lottery Refund campaign, the politicians have agreed to pay back this money after the Village sale, and Big has chosen to set up the Spirit of 2012 Trust with its share.
Essentially Government is trying to take the credit for giving back some lottery money it never should have taken in the first place, and then presenting this as a victory for its delivery of the Olympic Legacy through an initiative it didn’t set up. It is PR smoke and mirrors of the highest calibre.
The Spirit of 2012 Trust may well contribute positively to the Olympic legacy, but it will be because thousands of charities have campaigned for the return of this cash in spite of repeated Government stonewalling.
Are you as tired of these shenanigans as we are? Then don’t let them get away with it! Join the Big Lottery Refund campaign today and help us get £425 million back for charities!