Thursday 22 April 2010

Lottery: we need it. Cuts we don't!

Recent coverage of the Party proposals on The Lottery by Third Sector reveal a disturbing lack of nous by some of my colleagues.

"Swings and roundabouts" was one of the comments. Well, it's some time since I did my Maths 'O' level but if the funding for The Big Lottery Fund is reduced from 50% to 40%, as the Tories propose, then that is less money for the Third Sector. BLF have a great record of spending 80% of their allocation on the third sector.

And surely 80% of 40% is a reduction in our funding rather than swings and roundabouts. Or have I missed something?

When we face an uncertain future in terms of spending cuts The Lottery is an essential lifeline for many third sector bodies, big and small.

We cannot afford any policy that reduces this source of essential funding. So we will need to be vigilant and protect the Lottery money for BLF. Wake up colleagues. Off those swings and into action!

And it will also mean that the BLF will have to look to getting leaner and meaner, and ensure that the excellent capacity building programmes they have run carry on. BLF have an outstanding record of support for developing the infrastructure of our sector. In the coming years this will be ever more important.

And on money for the sector, fascinating to see the stats in the recent NCVO Almanac.

It is clear to me that the next decade will see a further massive increase in the sector's income and our strength. Of course we must beware idiot spending cuts by short-sighted public bodies. But our case on delivery is overwhelming.

David Brindle in his Guardian Editorial on Wednesday has it right. He writes,

"For the first time in history, the sector is almost certainly now receiving more cash from the state than from you and me.

It's a hugely symbolic change, and one with which many people in the sector, and beyond, will be uncomfortable. But will it last? With the spending axe being sharpened, the £12.8bn a year that voluntary organisations bank from statutory sources is looking highly vulnerable.

The sector received £9.6bn from the state and £11.5bn from individuals. By 2007-08, the latest year for which figures are given, the gap had all-but closed, with the state contributing just £300m less than the £13.1bn from individuals. We can make a reasonable assumption that the two trends will have crossed since 2007-08.

We also learn that individual donations fell in 2008-09 (later data being available for giving) as the recession hit, with 774,000 fewer people making a payment and the average donation falling from £33 a year to £31. State funding, meanwhile, is likely to have continued rising.

And while the sector's income from the State will dip as cuts are made, and may for a short period fall back again behind income from individuals, the long-term trend is surely a rising one."

Our task is to continue to argue relentlessly for third sector delivery of services and the case for cuts to enhance our role in delivering cost effective and citizen focused services.

Of course there will be local Councils and others who think its job is to protect its own bureaucracy and cut sector funding. We will expose these Councils. Never doubt that ACEVO will be in their fighting our corner against wickedness and stupidity.

And we will highlight all those who take a more radical approach to spending cuts by a fundamental examination of how and why they deliver what they do.

Overall the future is bright. But let's not doubt there is a bumpy ride ahead.

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