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UK Government Refunds another Chunk of Its Olympic Debts to Lotteries

Sep 24, 2014 - by Monica Erdei
GBP69 million have been returned to the Olympic lottery distribution fund

GBP69 million have been returned to the Olympic lottery distribution fund

Officials say GBP69 million have been returned to the Olympic lottery distribution fund.

Last year Hugh Robertson, the former minister for sport and tourism, promised to pay lottery distributors part of their money back by July 2014. The Government official promised to return between GBP100 million and GBP150 million of unspent funds and proceeds from the sale of the Olympic athletes village.

Now Helen Grant, who has taken over his position, announced that money has been placed in the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund. The news came through a letter sent to the Directory of Social Change (DSC).

According to gambling news, the previous government raised GBP675 million from lottery distributors to help pay for the 2012 London Olympics, with the biggest part of it coming from the Big Lottery Fund. After the end of the Olympic Games, National Lottery minister John Penrose said contributors would most likely be paid back by 2030 or 2031.

Third Sector: Government says £69m of Olympic money is set to be returned to lottery distributors

Earlier in July, the Government paid back an initial GBP79 million of the promised GBP150 million. Back then, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the rest of the money would come “later in the year”.

This month Helen Grant, minister for sport and tourism, sent a letter to the DSC saying that the GBP69.2 million sale of the Olympic Village was completed on August 6. The money resulting from these proceeds has been placed in the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund, Grant said.

“The process for the final closure of the OLDF is now under way, and the balance will be moved to the National Lottery Distribution Fund for allocation in the usual proportions to good causes,” she wrote in the letter.

Under the country’s gambling laws, the National Lottery distributes good-cause money to lottery distributors such as the Big Lottery Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sport England.

DSC policy and research director Jay Kennedy said: “It is a good thing that now we know the village deal has concluded, the GBP69 million refund is happening and it isn’t going to drag on further into the end of the year.”

“But the government had originally said that this money from the athletes village sale would be coming back in July along with the GBP69 million in unspent OLDF funds.”

UK FundRaising: Big Lottery Refund campaign secures £148m refund

Led by the Director of Social Change, the Big Lottery Refund campaign to persuade the Government to return GBP425 million of Olympic money to the lottery fund was supported by 3,600 charitable organizations. The first signs that the campaign was making an impact came at the end of July, when authorities made an initial payment of GBP79 million out of the amount owed.

Considering that former sports minister Hugh Robertson promised to pay GBP150 million by July 2014, the partial refund was paid only at the very last minute. Out of the GBP79 million returned, GBP60 million is going to the Big Lottery Fund, and the rest to other lottery distributors.

“This is a brilliant victory for our supporters – their hundreds of letters to MPs and Ministers, statements to the press, and awareness-raising have held Government to account,” Jay Kennedy, Director of Policy and Research at DSC said in a statement.

“I want to thank them for their efforts. Without their support and pressure, I honestly believe Government might have just siphoned this cash off somewhere else. Now that it has been returned to the Lottery it can benefit charitable good causes across the country.”

The Telegraph: We want our share of the £528million Olympic surplus now, say charities

After the UK Government used money from lottery funds to organize the 2012 London Olympics, charities are asking for the money back. Last July, some organizations have accused ministers of pocketing hundreds of millions of pounds instead of returning what they borrowed.

This happened soon after sports minister Hugh Robertson disclosed that GBP528 million had been saved from the Olympics’ and Paralympics’ budget. The Government was planning on giving the money to the Treasury, but charities have criticized the decision claiming that part of the money should be returned to the Big Lottery Fund, after officials raised GBP425 million from lottery causes to help fund the Olympics and Paralympics Games.

Jay Kennedy, director of Policy and Research at the DSC told reporters: “Now that this money has gone unspent there really is no morally defensible reason why charities should not be paid back. There is a concern that the Government is playing politics with this money and using it to bring down the headline deficit figure.”

In its defense, the Big Lottery Refund argued that, despite having nothing to do with elite sports, it became the biggest Olympic lottery contributor. The amount it raised could have funded more than 10,000 charities, the organization said.

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