National Lottery Community Fund

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 13 March 2003.

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Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour 2:30, 13 March 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what discussions it has had with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the future of the national lottery Community Fund. (S1O-6635)

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

The Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport met the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Minister for Culture, Sport and Welsh Language of the National Assembly for Wales on 27 February to discuss a range of issues concerning the national lottery, including the proposed merger of the Community Fund and the new opportunities fund. No decisions have yet been made and further discussions will take place.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

Does the minister share my concern that a disproportionate amount of lottery funding has tended to go to better-off communities? Putting it crudely, Kensington and Chelsea are getting an awful lot more from lottery funding than Prestonpans and Tranent. I suppose that that may be because it helps to have as local residents retired bank managers who can understand the application procedures.

Can the minister report on what progress has been made on the Executive's efforts to encourage good bids for lottery funding from disadvantaged communities throughout Scotland?

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

We ought to be wary of criticising bank managers. Many of us are best friends with our bank managers—if some members are not, they should be.

John Home Robertson's point is similar that raised by David Davidson earlier on the spread of awards to different communities. The fair share initiative that I mentioned earlier is targeted not so much on those communities that are not getting awards, but on those that are not generating applications. Under the fair share initiative, a specific amount of money is put aside to help six communities, which, from memory, are Glasgow, Dundee, the two Lanarkshires, Renfrewshire and one of the Ayrshires—I am not sure which. The idea is to encourage more applications from those areas. That is one way in which lottery funding is to be shared more evenly. I accept John Home Robertson's point that that has to be seen to be done more equitably.

Photo of Cathy Peattie Cathy Peattie Labour

Does the minister accept that voluntary organisations such as councils for voluntary services play a key role in helping organisations to fill in funding application forms? Does he recognise the importance of continuing to support such organisations as we do now, to ensure that they can carry out their work?

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

That is an important point. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has made detailed comments on the proposals for merging the Community Fund and the new opportunities fund. I acknowledge that the proposals are largely related to the two organisations' roles. It is important that everybody who wants to apply for lottery funds of whatever size—the awards-for-all scheme covers applications for small lottery awards of between £500 and £1,000—is able to do so. People should not be put off, for whatever reason, by the form in which the application has to be made.