HL Deb 27 March 1996 vol 570 cc137-8WA
Viscount Bridgeman

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an estimate of the effect of the National Lottery on charitable income.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch)

The National Lottery has provided an unparalleled source of new funds for charities and the voluntary sector generally. The National Lottery Charities Board has so far made awards totalling £159 million, exclusively for the benefit of the voluntary sector. Furthermore, a very large part of the awards from the other lottery distributors has gone to the voluntary sector. Of the £1 billion allocated so far to arts, sports, heritage and millennium projects, almost £400 million has been awarded to voluntary sector organisations. This means that almost 50 per cent. of available lottery monies for good causes has gone to charities and voluntary organisations. As the lottery continues, similar sums of money will be available to the sector year on year.

The claims which have been made so far have been based on surveys in which people state whether they have made any recent unplanned donations. These surveys say little about the size of donations, nor about whether any changes in giving are due to the lottery. A wide range of economic and social symptoms has been blamed on the lottery, from a decline in savings to a reduction in cinema attendances; but the causal link, not least for charities, is far from clear. The situation is further complicated by the fact that while there are charities which have seen donations declining since the introduction of the National Lottery, there are others which have reported an increase.

During the passage of the National Lottery etc. Bill, the Government gave a commitment to monitor changes in charities' income following the introduction of the lottery. With the participation of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Government have set up a research programme to look at charities' income before and after the lottery was established. Provisional findings should be available by late Spring, more comprehensive findings by next year and final results by early 1998.

Examination of charities' accounts is a more reliable and factually based method of approaching this issue than surveys of the public can be. It is, however, inevitably a longer term exercise and in the meantime public surveys, a useful but secondary method of researching the issue, remain the main source of information. While this is the case, firm conclusions cannot be drawn.