One in five projects run by the National Lottery Charities Board has failed to meet expectations, the Government's spending watchdog says in areport published today.
As much as £145m, one quarter of the spending on the board's first three main grant programmes, has been given to projects not delivered as planned, said the National Audit Office (NAO).
In a few cases the board's grants had been mis-spent, for example, on overdrafts, instead of paying for major projects designed to improve the lives of disadvantaged people.
The NAO found many examples of real success, citing a project in Edinburgh that provided theatre training workshops for young people, and another in Nottingham that improved access to health services for Vietnamese people.
But in some cases, the Charities Board had failed to identify risks and had not seen the progress reports it should have demanded. Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said 122 of the 150 projects examined were progressing as planned, but the remaining 18 per cent were below the level of service set out in the grant application they had submitted.
Sir John said the Charities Board had taken action to ensure society got better value from Lottery funds. The NAO believes between £315m and £393m had been given to projects that were progressing as planned, with £67m to £145m in less successful schemes.
By November 1999 the board had made 28,000 grants worth £1.5bn, mainly to small charities and voluntary groups.
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