LETTER : How to spend lottery money

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The Independent Online
From Mr Richard Best

Sir: The Rowntree Foundation report on the National Lottery is not trying to spoil the fun (Polly Toynbee's 'Roundheads would steal our dream', 19 July). But now is the time to consider whether the National Lottery - which has changed the nation's habits in just a few months - can give society more than a weekly, unfulfilled dream. With the likelihood of over pounds 1bn of "new money for good causes", surely the Lottery should be a national asset.

In the same edition of the Independent, Ms Toynbee writes about the recent riots in Luton ("Why no man's land is rioting"). Her two pieces are connected. The Lottery's sports funding could play a vital role in improving the lives of young people in disadvantaged areas. Equally, there are ways in which arts projects can avoid being elitist and metropolitan, and can help to strengthen local communities. Heritage funding can go to the restoration of community buildings and Millennium projects can bring new life to less affluent neighbourhoods.

The lottery's Charities Board seems likely to behave in an exemplary fashion in targeting the kind of places where young people face a mass of disadvantages. Funding from the other four lottery boards could also do so much good if the spending is well targeted.

Our report urges detailed monitoring of the lottery's impact and proposes a series of measures to ensure the money reaches less affluent people. This new phenomenon could give us more than dreams: it could help create real opportunities and provide some constructive alternatives to the social malaise expressed in Luton's riots.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Best


Joseph Rowntree Foundation


21 July