Sports Politics: Lottery will give more to help poor

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The Sports Council yesterday promised that more money from the National Lottery would go to clubs and councils in poorer parts of the country.

Officials have found that many inner-city areas were unable to meet their contribution to the cost of projects such sports centres and swimming pools. So from the beginning of next year, successful applicants in 70 designated areas in England - 18 of them in London - will have to pay a maximum of 10 per cent, instead of 35 per cent at present.

"In very exceptional circumstances, it will be even less," Derek Casey, the council's chief executive, said. "The figure of 35 per cent was proving a bit steep in the more deprived areas and applications were not coming in. Lottery money should be for all the people and this change of criteria should help."

The change of rules puts some sections of sport almost on a par with the arts, which require organisations to pay five per cent of the cost.

The council also plans to give more money in all areas to schools which open their facilities for community use, increasing the amount available from 65 per cent to 80 per cent. This is designed to increase the link between schools and clubs and prevent talented youngsters falling by the sporting wayside after finishing their studies.

The council has given pounds 7m to 60 new schemes this month, taking the total to date to pounds 122m involving 751 projects.

The biggest of the latest awards, pounds 1.7m, goes towards a multi-sports development at the Edge Hill College of Higher Education in Ormskirk, Lancashire. The smallest award is pounds 972 for an all-weather pitch at Ware Cricket Club in Hertfordshire.