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Lottery money should be redirected to arts & heritage, say councils

Councils are calling for a review of lottery money to re-focus it on heritage and the arts.

These are the good causes that the lottery “was originally designed to help”, council leaders have said – and thanks to severe cuts, they need help more than ever.

They have called for a “frank and open discussion” about the future of lottery funding.

The LGA said: “Councils spend £540m every year on the arts, museums, galleries, theatres and heritage. However, councils will have experienced a 40% cut in government grants by the end of this parliament, having an inevitable impact on the enhancement to the quality of local people's lives that a thriving local culture brings. Local authority areas can also expect to receive less of a boost from Arts Council England (ACE), as they face cuts of 17% over the next two years in non-lottery funding, as it falls from £327.5m in 2014/15 to £271m in 2015/16.”

The long-term future of thousands of museums, galleries and arts initiatives are in question, as cash is refocused on statutory services such as social care and waste management.

The LGA argues that some BIG Lottery Fund areas are “already crowded” with government support via policies and programmes, meaning money could be redirected.

Cllr Flick Rea MBE, who chairs the LGA's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Museums, leisure centres and heritage attractions could get a huge boost if the Government reviewed lottery funding and stripped out duplication with other Government programmes that is contrary to the founding additionality principle of the National Lottery.

“Since its inception the National Lottery has given billions of pounds to good causes and our country is a more culturally rich and diverse place because of it. However, as funding continues to get cut and council budgets are getting increasingly tighter, we now need to have a conversation around how money is allocated and ensure that it is ending up where it is needed the most.

“Councils have worked hard to protect their arts, heritage and sport funding over the past few years and strived to find innovative ways to link it to economic and growth priorities. However, the Government's decision to continually focus its most severe cuts on councils, which deliver hundreds of services on which millions of people rely each day, is inevitably having an impact on the arts, heritage and sport, and the additional boost provided by lottery funding is ever more important.”

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