Voluntary Sector (2012 Olympics)

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 6th February 2008.

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Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield 11:30 am, 6th February 2008

What assessment he has made of the impact of the UK's hosting the 2012 Olympics on the funding available for voluntary sector organisations.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The Olympics will bring huge benefits to the whole country and the Big Lottery Fund has introduced important safeguards to protect the amount of funding available to voluntary sector organisations. The fund has ensured that no existing lottery projects will be affected and that the original estimated £2 billion over the next five years will continue to be available for the third sector.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

I am sure that the Minister knows that the Big Lottery Fund has allocated resources to many thousands of important and valuable voluntary organisations and clubs. Although I welcome the Government's assurance that there will be no further raids on good causes, will he please confirm that the voluntary sector will get the same amount of funding from the Big Lottery Fund, or the same share of funding, as it now receives?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

That was the point of my original answer. I confirm that the original estimate of £2 billion for the next five years will be available for the third sector. If the hon. Gentleman is so concerned for the Big Lottery Fund to give its resources to the third sector, he might have a word with Conservative Front Benchers, who recently announced that they would cut £250 million from the amount going from the fund to the Olympics. That would take £250 million away from the voluntary sector.

Photo of Derek Wyatt Derek Wyatt PPS (Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MBE, Minister of State), Department for Culture, Media & Sport

One of the positive aspects of London 2012 is that more than 100,000 people will volunteer. Will the Minister consider creating a national vocational qualification for volunteering and, most of all, establishing an Olympic volunteers day that will connect not only this country but all the cities that have hosted the Olympics throughout the world since 1896?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his contribution to work on the Olympics. He and I played rugby together many years ago in the parliamentary rugby team—something that we will probably not do again in future. The volunteers to whom he refers are essential. Qualifications that volunteers can attain, as part of acknowledging the contribution that they make, are an important part of the process of accreditation that we would like to happen. This is, of course, a matter for voluntary organisations and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, but my hon. Friend is right to raise the issue, because there are genuine opportunities to be taken.

Photo of Susan Kramer Susan Kramer Cabinet Office, Shadow Secretary of State, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

One of the strengths of the Big Lottery Fund has been the fact that it funds not only the third sector, but the statutory and private organisations that partner that sector. That is where the cuts of £425 million will fall. Will the Minister make it clear what impact he thinks those cuts will have on the ability to deliver real outputs and projects on the ground?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I welcome the hon. Lady to her new responsibilities on the Liberal Democrat Front Bench. The Olympic games offer many opportunities, including business opportunities for many social enterprises in the third sector. It has been estimated that Social Enterprise London could be a contender to bid for around £500 million of business related to the Olympic games. As well as resources for the third sector being safeguarded, there are opportunities for social enterprises in the sector to be deliverers of the Olympic games and the opportunities that they provide.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

But can the Minister ensure that young people and voluntary organisations in places that are affected by the Olympics, such as Slough, with the rowing at Dorney, will be able to make the most of the ambitions and the opportunities for sport and outdoor play that the games will bring to this country?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

My hon. Friend has a great track record on all these issues. I can assure her that the Olympic games will provide young people in particular with opportunities not only as volunteers—many of the 70,000 or 100,000 volunteers will be young people, which will provide them with new opportunities—but through the many voluntary and third sector organisations that will play their part in their local communities, thereby benefiting from the wave of excitement and interest that we have generated not just in this country, but across the world, as we host the most successful Olympic games ever.

Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Conservative, Broxbourne

The Minister has given assurances that no more lottery money will be siphoned off between now and the Olympics to fund the building of infrastructure projects, but does that guarantee extend to the legacy? There is concern in some quarters that the legacy will be funded by future raids on the lottery fund.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I think that I can give the hon. Gentleman those assurances. I remind him that we have managed successfully to safeguard that level of resourcing for third sector organisations from the Big Lottery Fund not just over the five years, but beyond the Olympic games. Again, however, I suggest that he talk to those on his own Front Bench, who would inflict £250 million of cuts on the voluntary sector with their proposals on funding the Olympics.

Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North

I welcome the benefits of the Olympics, but will my hon. Friend conduct a review of all the voluntary groups that have suffered from the diversion of funds to the Olympics? I understand that the Welsh Jazz Society, which is run by volunteers, is losing funding as a result of cuts to the Arts Council of Wales from the lottery. Can he look into that, please?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I am not familiar with the specific project and funding that my hon. Friend describes, but I re-emphasise that we are protecting third sector organisations' funding from the Big Lottery Fund. Indeed, the director general of the Big Lottery Fund said:

"I am pleased that we will be able to protect existing programmes and the money earmarked for the Third Sector."

The Arts Councils and my colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have announced additional funding through the mainstream programmes, from which I am sure organisations such as the one that my hon. Friend described may wish to benefit.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

Many young people in the third sector throughout the United Kingdom are looking forward to participating in the Olympics. The Minister has given assurances across a range of issues in respect of grant assistance, but will he repeat those assurances for the regions, so that people in Northern Ireland will not be penalised for participating in and supporting the Olympic games?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I am absolutely certain that the people of Northern Ireland will not be penalised; indeed, I hope to see athletes from Northern Ireland playing their part in the Olympic teams. Northern Ireland will benefit hugely from the Olympics, and that will involve not just the young people participating, but sport as a whole rising in popularity and participation, and bringing benefits to both the individuals concerned and the wider community.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Manchester, Blackley

Is it not the case that Adam Blake's report on the economic impact of the Olympics in the English regions and Wales and Scotland showed that, outside London, that impact will be wholly negative? What is my hon. Friend going to do to compensate for that?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I do not recognise that claim, as I believe that there will be genuine social and economic benefits throughout the UK. Indeed, we now have new regional Ministers covering each of the nine English regions. I know that each of those Ministers will make it one of their priorities to ensure that the Olympics bring real social and economic benefits to every region throughout England and, indeed, throughout the UK.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

The question on the Order Paper asks what assessment the Minister has made of the effect of the funding of the Olympics on voluntary organisations. I have listened to the Minister very carefully, but is he seriously trying to suggest that the redirection of money siphoned off for the Olympics will not impact on other good causes and on the voluntary sector? If he is, that does not match up with the experience of our constituents.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

One of the benefits of discussions in the Chamber is the ability to provide reassurances; in this case, I reassure the hon. Gentleman and his constituents that we have secured £2 billion over the next five years—and beyond into the legacy of the Olympics—so that voluntary sector organisations will receive the resources that they need to carry on the great work that they do in many disadvantaged areas of the country. I repeat my plea: the hon. Gentleman should talk to his Front Benchers, as it is his party's proposals that would cut £250 million—