Lottery board to make pounds 40m charity pay-out

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The Independent Online
MARIANNE MACDONALD

Arts Reporter

The National Lottery Charities Board will finally announce its first lottery grants totalling pounds 40m on Monday.

The long-awaited announcement follows harsh criticism that the quango, set up to distribute lottery funds to charity, has spent too much on administration and has been too slow to pay out its much-needed cash.

But on Monday it is due to give its first grants to hundreds of charities, almost all community-based self-help groups.

The exception will be two pay-outs to medical research charities working in the breast cancer field.

Further grants to charities working to alleviate poverty and disadvantage - the theme of the first tranche of the board's lottery funds - will be made in November and in December. In all it will spend pounds 160m.

Meanwhile, evidence of the huge disparity between lottery spending in the different counties of England emerged last night.

The research by the Directory of Social Change on behalf of BBC Newsnight shows that the county in the UK which has benefited the most from the survey of pounds 535m paid out in lottery grants is South Yorkshire, which has won almost pounds 53m - or pounds 49.46 per head.

At the other end of the scale Bedfordshire has benefited by just pounds 54,072 since grants began in April - equivalent to 10p per head of population.

The top six counties to win lottery cash are South Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire (pounds 42.15 per head), Hampshire (pounds 28.84), Grampian (pounds 25.02), Gwynedd (pounds 21.38) and Greater London (pounds 20.74). At the bottom are Cumbria (90p), Warwickshire (84p), Surrey (60p), Wiltshire (31p), West Glamorgan (20p) and Bedfordshire.

It also emerged yesterday that a one-day conference to explain how to apply for lottery money was charging more than pounds 400 for admission.

The conference at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in west London on 8 November features a keynote address from Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Heritage, who has responsibility for the lottery.

It also features representatives of all five lottery distribution bodies including Jeremy Newton, director of the national lottery at the Arts Council and David Carpenter, head of external affairs at the Sports Council lottery unit.

But John Wood, chairman of the British Kodaly Academy, a small London charity, said the the conference would be "useful" but was too expensive.

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