Government reforms for society lotteries will threaten £126 million raised for good causes, warn charities

Government plans to consult on proposals to increase the minimum percentage that society lotteries must contribute to good causes – currently at 20 per cent – are likely to result in many not-for-profits having to close their lotteries and others seeing a considerable drop in income at a time of great austerity.

An increase in the minimum percentage would be very damaging for third sector income at this time of local and central government funding cuts.

In a joint letter to Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Institute of Fundraising and Lotteries Council warn of “real concerns that an increase in the current 20 per cent minimum percentage will actually result in less money overall going to good causes”.

Urging the Secretary of State to ensure the minimum percentage is not increased, the joint letter authors write: “We are committed to the fundamental principle that the amount of money that goes to good causes through fundraising activities is maximised, and that this is crucial to maintaining public trust and confidence in charities. However, while increasing the minimum percentage may seem, at first glance, imply an increase in the amount of money going to good causes, the impact of this change would in fact be very likely to have the opposite effect.”

They draw attention to charities like Marie Curie, Clic Sargent, Scope, Barnardo’s, National Trust, NDCS, Royal Star and Garter Homes, Arthritis Research UK, the Hospices Lotteries Association, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Prostate Cancer UK, RSPB, Royal British Legion, National Autistic Society, WWF and Macmillan Cancer Support that have all gone on record to say that increasing the minimum contribution from 20p in £1 would reduce the amount of money that they will receive or make it harder to grow their income through society lotteries.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising says: “These proposals could very well place in jeopardy the money raised by society lotteries that provide vital support for thousands of charities and millions of people across Great Britain.

“What we would like to see emerge from the Government is a more flexible implementation of the current 20 per cent to good causes rule and or regulation eased to make it easier for charities to fundraise.”

Clive Mollett, Chairman of the Lotteries Council, which represents charities’ lotteries says: “It is notoriously difficult for many, if not all charities to return 20% to good causes; raising it further would lead many to many society lotteries to simply ‘wither on the vine’.

“The Government has got this wrong. This debate should be about finding ways to support an increase in society lottery ticket sales. That is the way to directly increase the amount going to good causes.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is expected to launch its consultation soon.