Rural areas will be hit hardest by cuts as grants go to inner city pots

EDITOR – The Lottery grants have been limited to areas of deprivation. That makes the lottery a drain of funds out of our rural areas into urban areas, which is no good to us.

Poorer people do live in rural areas and they are in a worse position since they are without access to services. For example, parents pay a lot to get their child to school (£640/yr per child), to get to work, to sign on or to visit the CAB for debt counselling.

Transport is expensive and in many villages, is a precursor to most services.

This rural deprivation is recognised, but doesn’t count in the Lottery’s books.

The Lottery only considers one kind of deprivation, based on numbers of people living near each other.

All areas pay into the Lottery, and the original point of it was that the Lottery was ‘for all’. Indeed, there used to be an attempt to ensure that all areas got a reasonable share, proportionate to the amounts taken out of the area through lottery ticket purchase.

There are many ways of measuring deprivation and access to facilities is one where rural communities are very much disadvantaged.

With support from all political group Leaders at Lincolnshire County Council and our MP, I did raise this nationally, but the minister simply passed the buck and said it was up to the private sector. I don’t think so.

Then I heard about the idea of getting the banks to support the voluntary sector, since they now have public money.

But I find they are also limiting their funds and only to disadvantaged areas that do not include us. We all pay into these funds and we all need fundamental “pump-priming” support to make a big society happen.

Secondly, the banks have hijacked this idea into a publicity stunt to make volunteers spend their time raising the bank’s profile, when they should be concentrating on providing the voluntary service itself.

Nat West limits each grant to £6K, setting three organisations in competition with each other. In getting people to vote for a local project, volunteers are forced to work tremendously hard at publicising their bank, but only offer £6K.

 This is very limited indeed and not a cost-effective use of volunteer time: It makes volunteers spend a lot of time getting votes on a computer instead of actually providing a voluntary service.

That hijacks our big society resource, turning them into free marketing agents for the bank.

The banks should be required to pass that money to the successful schemes that exist already, with proper criteria and vetting procedures in place.

In Lincolnshire we are consolidating these into one for the County Council, at least.  

Many of the grants require partnership funding, so each application is being vetted by a host of other committees and organisations. Setting up yet another separate bureaucratic system is wasteful on our most precious resource – people.

Time wasted in filling in umpteen forms is time not spent on actually providing the services that make up this big society. 

The voluntary sector needs the lifeblood of money and people to do the work.

That lifeblood needs to be efficiently given to enable the voluntary sector to actually make use of it for our communities.

MRS MARIANNE OVERTON

Lincs County Council Independent group