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A Lottery of a Legacy!

So what exactly is an Olympic sports legacy? The Government seems to think it is more spectacles of elite sport. George Osborne has decided to waive tax rules to allow Usain Bolt and other top athletes to attend the Grand Prix event to be held at the Olympic Stadium in the summer. He says this is to ‘secure the Olympic Legacy’. Bolt hasn’t yet said he will come. Boris, son of John, has also weighed in with a spectacle of his own, a two day cycling festival to be attended by up to 70,000 including elite cyclists like Wiggo and Trott. Spiffing away Boris said: ‘"Following the superhuman efforts of our Team GB cyclists last year, thousands of cycling enthusiasts, both experienced and amateur, riding a fantastic route through the streets of our fine city is surely a fitting legacy’.

Elsewhere local media are now regularly reporting so-called ‘Olympic Legacy grants’ being made to clubs around the country. Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Club, for example, has been given £50,000 to ‘revamp facilities’. Warlingham Squash and Racketball Club in Surrey has also got £50,000 to make improvements like putting in a boiler and building women’s changing rooms. Several clubs in Northamptonshire are to share £500,000 to do up their facilities. These grants are described as ‘Olympic legacies’. However, it is hard to see what is specifically Olympic about the grants. They are just National Lottery funds which are being distributed by Sport England from a pot of £16.6million from something called the Inspired Facilities Fund.

A couple of sports festivals and a £16.6million fund are not going to make much impression on the present furore surrounding the decline in school sports funding. Far from inspiring a generation London 2012 saw sport participation in the target group of 16 to 25year olds fall.

Nor does it make up for the £2.175billion taken from the National Lottery for the Olympics. This raid on the Lottery included the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds taken from children’s sport in the name of elite sport. Nor has the DCMS repaid the Big Lottery Fund from which it grabbed £638.098million. After over a year of lobbying and a campaign now supported by more than 3,200 charities demanding the return of £425million of the stolen funds it has indicated it may repay £100 to £150million, but not until 2014 at the earliest. Jowell originally promised to repay all the Big Lottery Fund money. The DCMS also say in an attached Freedom of Information response: 'Repayments will not include interest based on inflation'. Most of that is probably lost for good. The rest, of course, will not be repaid at all.

A full rundown of the money taken from the Lottery, which could have been spent on other, better causes was provided in the DCMS Freedom of Information response:

'a total of £2.175 billion of Lottery funding is included in the £9.298bn public sector funding provision for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games…

‘The designated Olympic Lottery games are on track to raise £750…

£1.085 billion provided from the National Lottery Distributors included in the £2.175 billion is being contributed by the individual distributors as follows:

‘Arts Council England £112.499m

UK Film Council £21.797m

Arts Council of Northern Ireland £4.514m

Scottish Arts Council £12.478m

Scottish Screen £1.870m

Arts Council of Wales £8.061m

Big Lottery Fund £638.098m

Heritage Lottery Fund £161.220m

Sport England £99.956m

Sport Northern Ireland £4.192m

Sport Scotland £13.059m

UK Sport NIL

Sports Council of Wales £7.255m

All figures are rounded to nearest £0.001m.

In addition to the contributions set out above,

the four national sports lottery distributors – Sport England and the Sports Councils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (but not UK Sport) are granting a total of £340 million from their National Lottery income.

£50m of the Sport England contribution is going towards the Aquatics Centre, Velodrome and Broxbourne. The remaining £290m has already been spent on ensuring that both elite and grassroots sport capitalise on the 2012 Olympics being held in the UK.’

The DCMS ends its response by saying:

‘There are no plans to take further funds from the National Lottery for the 2012 Games or Games’ legacy projects.’

However, the grants to clubs from the Inspired Facilities Fund are described as ‘Games Legacy projects’ so it seems the inspirational raid on the Lottery is continuing.

Remember how Tony Blair said back in 1997: "We don't believe it would be right to use lottery money to pay for things which are the Government's responsibilities"?

We didn’t believe you either Tony!

FoI re Lottery funding for Olympics.doc31.5 KB

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