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Charity Lottery reform a win-win whatever sport you support!

Malcolm Fleming
Sport and Civil Society Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, has stated that she wishes to protect the National Lottery’s ability to raise money for good causes

This summer the world has been glued to football but back in May I joined the then Culture Secretary Matt Hancock MP, for the launch of Street League Rugby at Coram’s Fields in North London.

The event took me back to my days as a not particularly good second row in my school team. Although it’s fair to say that Matt Hancock got stuck right in and managed an impressive job of juggling TV interviews in between scoring trys!

Street League is the UK’s leading sport-for-employment charity, working towards ending youth unemployment. Using a combined sport and education curriculum the charity, supported by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery, supports 16 to 24-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds into employment and training. Their programmes, which feature football, dance, fitness and now rugby, see participants play sport, learn and develop key skills and get the qualifications they need to move into work, all whilst having fun.

So far £1.9 million has been awarded to Street League by Postcode Sport Trust, which is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. This funding has enabled the charity to focus on delivering their award-winning Academy programme, which supports young people facing socioeconomic barriers into long-term employment, as well as expand their services into new areas such as rugby. With up to one in five young people being unemployed in the areas where Street League operate, I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the benefits that the power of sport can bring when it comes to tackling this issue.

Looking at the incredible things society lottery funding can enable, such as the work and achievements of Street League, is hugely inspiring. However, there is so much more that the players of People’s Postcode Lottery can achieve for thousands of good causes, yet the current law regulating the sector is having the effect of directing some funds which could be going to charity into administration costs instead.

Fundraising by society lotteries is the only type of charity fundraising which has limits imposed on it by law, and the current limits are increasingly out-dated. Two in particular are causing problems – the annual turnover limit which means a society lottery can only sell up to £10 million of tickets in any year, and the draw limit, which means that a society lottery can only sell up to £4 million of tickets in any one draw.

A straightforward change to these limits would enable society lotteries to achieve even more for charities just like Street League. The UK Government are aware of the problem and have thus recently published a public consultation on society lottery reform, which is open until 7 September 2018.

The government consultation proposes a £100 million annual turnover limit, a proposal People’s Postcode Lottery warmly welcome as it will allow more to be raised for good causes and for administration costs to be further reduced.

The Government also propose a £5 million draw limit, up from the £4 million currently allowed. We are worried that this small increase is not enough to future proof the limits for the years ahead. The current limit has been in place since 2009 and the Government have been considering reforming the current limits for over five years, so we can expect the new limit – whatever it is set at - to remain in place for some time to come. If we are to avoid unnecessary funds being diverted to administration once again it’s important to set it at a level which future-proofs it for the decade ahead.

Sport and Civil Society Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, has stated that she wishes to protect the National Lottery’s ability to raise money for good causes. This is something People’s Postcode Lottery strongly support, especially as many of the charities we support also get funding from the National Lottery. The win-win for the country is to get both the National Lottery and society lotteries to continue to grow together – as indeed they have done for most of the last decade. By setting higher limits the Government can help society lotteries grow and by maintaining a limit on the top prizes paid out by society lotteries the Government can protect the distinctive position of the National Lottery.

Changing the law in this area doesn’t cost the taxpayer or the Government anything, but it can make a crucial difference to charities like Street League, and the young people they support, as well as to thousands of other charities across the country. Matt Hancock MP has now moved onto become Health Secretary, passing the ball on sport, culture, charities and charity lotteries to the new Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright MP. However, whoever the Culture Secretary is and whether you are a rugby fan or a football fan, surely helping society lotteries raise more for good causes is something everyone can support!