As the National Lottery Charities Board allocated its first pounds 40m to organisations fighting poverty this week, the credentials of its members came under scrutiny. Who is qualified to decide which causes should benefit from lottery money, while others flounder?
The charities board has 21 members representing England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, picked by ministers from industry, academia and charities.
The board is led by David Sieff, a director of Marks and Spencer, who is a lover of horse-racing, a member of the council for industry of the Prince's Youth Business Trust, and chairman of Racing Welfare Charities. Mr Sieff, who will be paid for one day's work a week from a salary range of up to pounds 55,000 a year, is supported by a team of sub-chairmen, who will also receive some payment and non-paid members recommended by the voluntary sector.
Among the most recent recruits to the board is Stella Clarke, a JP and deputy lieutenant of Avon and chairman of council of Bristol University, who has been involved in social housing. She was asked to join the board by Baroness Blatch, the Home Office minister.
"If you've done things for some time in this area you've got a pretty good feeling for what people are doing, and how they are working in the community," Ms Clarke said. The board is given recommendations from regional advisory panels of volunteers. They are co-ordinated by salaried regional managers and their reports are based on the findings of a team of more than 100 freelance assessors.
The system was defended by Sir Adam Ridley, another member of the charities board's UK committee, a board member of Hambros Bank; former special adviser to the Chancellor and member for the Council of Charitable Support.
Sir Adam said the board's philosophy was to make a difference. "You could have a populist organisation that hands out money to Guide Dogs for the Blind, but money is already going there".Reuse content