It has recently come to light that government ministers at Westminster are planning to slash the Big Lottery Fund budget—which grants funding to everything from small community groups to larger national charities—by a reported 40%, with a total loss of £320 million every year. This cut would see Scotland’s Big Lottery Fund lose nearly half of its current allocation, dropping from £70 million to £40 million. Ministers at Holyrood were not consulted on these potentially devastating cuts, which would see a sharp reduction from the 13,000 BLF grants made last year alone. Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, has since written to both the Scottish Secretary in Westminster, David Mundell, and the Social Justice Secretary at Holyrood Alex Neil, calling for a reconsideration of the BLF cuts and labelling Westminster’s stance on the issue ‘perverse.’
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“I am appalled at the news of Westminster’s plans to raid the Big Lottery Fund of nearly half their budget. This funding is essential to the survival of community organisations that do some real good in our country.
“In my constituency, I have seen first-hand the incredible good that the aid provided by the Big Lottery Fund can have for the most disadvantaged of our communities. I recently visited the Play Therapy Base in Dalkeith and was delighted to see that, after a successful funding bid to BLF Scotland, they were able to install an IT system and water heaters to help them continue to provide a safe and welcoming space for distressed and traumatised children. Funding from the Big Lottery Fund is a crucial resource for organisations like the Play Therapy Base that allows them to stay afloat and gives them the opportunity to provide the best possible service to the people of Scotland.
“This issue only serves to reinforce that matters that directly affect the people of Scotland, matters like Lottery good cause distribution, should be completely devolved to avoid this kind of confusion. Until they are devolved however, I call upon the government down at Westminster to consider the welfare of the people of the UK and to rethink these damaging cuts. Small charity groups that rely on the Big Lottery Fund are an integral part of every community, and I hope that the ministers will keep them in mind as they take another look at the BLF budget.”