The principle of equity has been ignored in the granting of Lottery Aid. Discuss.

Nick Sherriff




“Within the first hour of the launch more than £165,000 tickets had been sold, by the end of the first week sales totalled £84.9 million and over £12 million  had been raised for the good causes. “



The title suggests that the impartial rules of conduct have not been employed during the distribution of lottery monies. This essay will investigate the distribution process including the boards themselves as well as the application system and show what may be considered a social imbalance as regards the granting of lottery monies. Further examination will consider inequalities in topics such as additionality, substitution, hegemony, geography and beneficiaries.  The influx of such vast amounts of money has led many to believe leisure is entering a resurgence or renaissance unseen since the Victorian era. (Henry.1993 cited in Evans.1996) 


In order to answer the question conclusively it is essential to have an understanding of the mechanics and workings of the organisations involved. The responsibility for the Lottery belongs to The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).   Regulation of the Lottery is by the newly appointed National Lottery Commission who is non-governmental but are accountable to Parliament. (Torkildsen. p209)   Camelot is the operator who has the seven-year contract to run the Lottery, which will be up for renewal in the year 2001.  The average breakdown of monies of the National Lottery are 50% prizes, 28% good causes, 13% lottery duty, 5% retailer commission, 3% Camelot operating costs and 1% profit. (National-Lottery) Over this seven-year period the Lottery now expects to make 10 billion for the good causes and 5 billion in tax.  The 28% for the good causes was split into five groups encompassing the Arts, Heritage, Charities, Sport and the Millennium Commission. How this money for the good causes is granted is up to the distribution bodies of which there are fourteen. (DCMS) (1) In recent times the lottery has been revised, the 1998 National Lottery Act introduced a new good cause, the New Opportunities Fund.  Governmental reasons for these new creations appear to be the result of a miscalculation of funds generated by the lottery for the good causes.  The estimated £9 billion has actually risen to £10 billion; this has left an extra 1 billion that was not accounted for in the initial plans. (DCMS) (3)



The aim of the Lottery is


“To provide a major new source of funding for projects in the arts, sport, heritage and charitable sectors and for projects to celebrate the third Millennium, with the view to improving the quality of life for everyone in the UK and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations.”

(Torkildsen. p 209)



The inception of the Lottery in 1993 came under the promise of net additionality. That is to say monies for distribution; as Torkildsen suggests; would be new and outside those of the treasury.  However, it has been suggested that this is often not the case (Evans.1996). A comparative study in the US suggests that the Lottery has proved to be a ‘false friend,’ not providing extra money but diverting state funding away from causes such as the arts (Frankland and Morris. 1995 cited in Evans.1996)  Why, in the first place was the mention of additionality used?  It could be considered that this was a sweetener in order to make the notion of a Lottery more attractive.  Connolly and Bailey 1995 take this further by questioning what would have happened to the funding of the good causes in the absence of the Lottery?  The probable outcome would either be the cutting of these mainly leisure services or an enormous extra cost to the state.  Therefore by this rationale the Lottery itself could be seen as a form of substitution. Although it is accepted that the sate would be unable or unlikely to match the funding of the Lottery.  However the notion of substitution rises again in regard to the Dept of National Heritage proposals in 1996 to establish a ‘stabilisation fund’ for the arts.  This one-off payment could appear to be a substitution of state funding by the Lottery. After all government funded the arts initially and does now appear to be reneging on its responsibilities.  



Local Authorities (LA) have been criticised for their reliance on Lottery grants.   70% of councils anticipate receiving a Sports lottery grant in the next few years closely followed by the New Opportunities Fund. (Swift.1999) Swift goes on to suggest that this reliance is unwise due to the recent  diversion from capital building projects by the distributors.   This is an important point, what happens when or if the Lottery grants dry up, who will fund these projects upkeep?   Again this is substitution at it’s best. The easier option of lottery monies seems to have led many LA’s to discard their normal financial avenues. In terms of equity it may be considered that LA’s are putting all their eggs in one basket.  If Lottery funding is not sustained the public may find themselves funding over zealous and unmaintainable projects.


The establishment of the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) by DCMS may not only be considered substitution but a second form of taxation.   The NOF has taken the £1 billion pounds worth of miscalculation and used it to fund health, education and the environment. (DCMS) (3)  It is hard to believe that this is not substitution, the National Health Service and Education have been funded by the government and parts of the environment have come under what could be considered as ‘Rational Recreation’ again funded by government.  In a recent press release DCMS says that these initiatives were ‘ massively endorsed by a nine to one majority of those responding to our White Paper last year.’ (DCMS) (4)  However who these people are is conveniently not mentioned.   The NOF making up the sixth good cause has diluted the funds for the remaining five from 5.6% to 4.5% each. On the whole not too much of a sting but this was only the tip of what could be called the substitution iceberg.    The Minister for DCMS Chris Smith confirmed in a press release that after 2001 the monies given to the Millennium Commission would be granted to the NOF, thus giving it one third of the overall good cause proceeds. (DCMS) (3)   In real terms, of the 28% for good causes 9.3%; which equates to £9300 million (9.3% of £10 billion); will fund services that for many have been and still should be funded by government.  This fantastical sum of money pales into insignificance when compared to the £5 billion taken from the lottery in just tax alone. Therefore reasons for substitution may appear unnecessary and greedy.



Another area of inequality could be the application system.  At present fund matching is required and individual distribution bodies have variations in their processes.   For instance Sport requires between 35% - 50% although there is some scope here for property donation, materials and labour to be offered as well as cash. (Torkildsen. P 210)  The arts and heritage are similar requiring 10% for less than £100,000 and 25% for over £100,000.  The difference may suggest that it is easier to bid for monies for the arts and heritage than for sport.  Although whether the bid is accepted lies solely with the relative distribution body.  The Millennium Commission application may be considered as ambiguous as it has limited criteria.  Applications  are expected to be of significant size and of value to the community.   The reason for this is to allow for wider access (Torkildsen.p212).   The use of the phrase ‘significant size’ does not seem to sit well with the idea of  community application or wider access.   In fact under the 1998 Lottery Act the issue of access does seem to have been addressed with the Charities Board extending their Small grants Scheme nationwide.(DCMS)(2)  Although only a maximum of £5,000 can be applied for. The fund matching system seems to favour the ‘position of establishment and the well-healed.’ (Evans.1996. p40) Community groups and ethnic minorities could find it much harder under this system generally, due to their lack of  support.  To say that just because an activity is community based does not mean however that it is not professionally organised.


“The notion of cultural democracy  and subsidiarity in the distribution of Lottery proceeds seems to have largely ignored.”

(Evans.1995. p234)


Kendall (1995. cited in Evans.1996, p10) suggested that the Lottery is insufficiently responsive to the customer or accountable to the citizen.  The public whose money these bodies re-distribute have little or no input as to where the money is spent.   The National Lottery claim that their lottery computer system is the most advanced in the world.(National-Lottery)   If this actually is the case, could not a tick box scenario be devised allowing the customer to control where their 28% was spent.  Evans further suggests that

a greater democratisation of lottery distribution choices is required.



“Pay up and play the game and leave the rest to us…”



Evans articulates that the lottery is the reassertion of what he calls a hegemonic subsidy system. This is the idea that the promotion of certain leisure activities has been for certain social groups. Such as the Arts and Heritage associated with the financially better off.   He later eludes to the idea that the makeup of the boards and assessors are deliberately at the advantage of these certain groups thus continuing the hegemonic trend.  It could be argued that the boards may lean heavily towards their own  middle classes, with major projects centring on London and the regional capitals.   Taking this idea a stage further, participation types may also be a factor when considering this ideology.  How many of the working class can afford or have great interest in the opera?  It is interesting to note that the government has launched the New Audiences programme, which is trying to build bigger and wider audiences.   Schemes such as vouchers, ticket discounting and workshops. It does seem as if the government is almost trying to coerce the audience into this historically middle class activity.  The oddest thing is that this is being done after the finance has been spent on the refurbishment of such buildings like the Royal Opera House - £78.5 million. It is hard not to see this as an after thought, thus justifying what may be considered a controversial spend.   The notion of hegemony is not new in the world of leisure and has been present in the form of rational recreation.  It is the state controlling the consent of the masses.  In this scenario it is done through nice uncritical leisure activities (i.e. the lottery), which on the surface at least look  unassuming.   Evans seems to be inflecting  that the state is fooling the masses into playing the lottery by offering fantastical cash prizes for the winners and lifestyle improvements for the losers.



Whether additionality or substitution is actually part and parcel within the distribution process seems to lay with the individual.   One man’s drink is another’s poison.  Does the individual agree that the arts should be publicly funded or not or at least in part. Depending on personal outlook there could be justification for a base standard but the optional extras cost more.  The question then begs are people prepared to pay for it.  The general consensus is probably not, especially if it means an increase in taxes. It is altogether quite different to withdraw that which has been promised, as with the arts stabilisation fund.  The NOF seems to have pushed this to the limit and one is compelled to ask ‘If the increase to health, education and the environment are so necessary then why has the state not provided this before?’ The question will remain unanswered until the NOF has played a few more hands yet.  The application system could appear a rather closed shop and this could be justified if the expertise of planning and structure were required.  The reality  appears not and boards seem to be selecting projects in an ad-hoc manner.  The obvious and most practical solution to the inequality would be to structure plans of development,  funded and agreed by the public.  The present lack of democratised input does nothing to dispel the possible myth of hegemony.  Secret circles and skulduggery are difficult to comprehend when one operates an open forum. On the other hand the very reason for prohibiting access may be the fear of loosing control. Finally, all these questions are right and proper but does anybody really care? The overwhelming, almost narcotisising prospect of becoming a millionaire may well have dampened the cause for distribution equity.  





The Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS)


(1)       Dept of Culture, Media and Sport.1997. Government White Paper - The People’s Lottery. [online].CCTA. Available from: [Accessed 10 November 1999]


(2)       Dept of Culture, Media and Sport.1997. Chris Smith sets out details of £5 million boost for Arts.[online].CCTA. Available from: [Accessed 10 November 1999]


(3)       Dept of Culture, Media and Sport.1997.Extra Lottery cash will help equip Britain for the future. [online].CCTA. Available from:

[Accessed 10 November 1999]


(4)       Dept of Culture, Media and Sport.1997. The National Lottery. [online].CCTA. Available from:

[Accessed 10 November 1999


The National Lottery. 1999. Information. [online]. Camelot group. Available from : [Accessed 11 November 1999]



M, Swift. 21 October 1999. Leisure Week. Councils too dependent on Lottery for funding.


G, Evans and J, White. 1996. The Economic and Social impact of the National Lottery – A literature review. North London Press. London.


G, Evans.1995. Journal of Leisure Studies - Planning for Leisure or pay up and play the game. E & FN Spon. London.


G, Torkildsen. 1999. 4th Ed. Leisure and Recreation Management. E & FN Spon. London.












Fitzherbert, L. 1995. Winners and Losers. York Publishing Services. York.



Editor. June 1998. Leisure Week. Royal Opera House answers its critics with cut-price tickets. Centaur.


M, Swift.  October 1999. Leisure Week. Councils too dependent on Lottery for funding. Centaur.


M, Swift.  May 1999. Leisure Week. Lottery points to white knuckle ride ahead. Centaur.


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