Lottery handout fails to make up charity shortfall

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The Independent Online
Medical research charities yesterday received pounds 6.7m of National Lottery money - about two-thirds of the average jackpot - in the first round of payouts to the sector which claims it has been hardest hit by the weekly draw.

The Association of Medical Research Charities acknowledged the grants as a "good start" but said the sum involved was disappointing. The largest grant announced yesterday is less than one thousandth of the biggest single sum of lottery money awarded so far, pounds 55m to the Royal Opera House.

The overall income of more than 90 charities represented by the association fell by pounds 21m (about 6 per cent) in 1995-1996, the first decrease in 12 years. The advent of the National Lottery is said to be a significant factor, particularly for the smaller organisations which rely on "small change" donations.

A spokeswoman for the association said yesterday that restrictions imposed on applicants for lottery funding had severely affected the outcome. Applications were limited to a single project rather than a programme of research. This resulted in the national medical research charities such as the Cancer Research Campaign and the British Diabetic Association having to compete with local organisations for funding. "For the bigger medical charities this is like choosing between Rwanda and Bosnia - do they seek funding for breast cancer or bowel cancer?" she said.

Medical charities, especially the larger ones providing a wide range of services in addition to their research role which had previously been the recipients of lottery money, were excluded from this round of applications, the spokeswoman added. "There is a case for the national charities being considered separately in the future," she said.

Yesterday's awards by the National Lottery Charities Board will fund research into asthma, cancer, liver disease, lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, stroke and head injury, and childhood meningitis. A total of 43 grants worth pounds 6.7m are for medical research, and 13 grants worth pounds 1.9m are for social research.

The largest grant of pounds 542,772 went to the Mental Health Foundation for research into the documentation and dissemination of information for mental health service users on alternative ways to live with the illness. The smallest sum of pounds 26,891 went to the Rehabilitation and Medical Research Trust to investigate the development of pressure sores in people who use wheelchairs. Other organisations to benefit include the National Heart Research Fund, Research into Ageing, British Lung Foundation, and Tenovus, a breast cancer organisation.

One of the losers among the unsuccessful organisations applying for funding was the Zito Trust. Set up by Jayne Zito in 1992, after schizophrenic Christopher Clunis stabbed her husband Jonathan to death, it had applied for pounds 85,000 over two years, and the rejection of cash puts the future of the trust in jeopardy.