Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Sports Council for Northern Ireland

  1.  The Sports Council for Northern Ireland is a non-departmental public body set up to develop sport in Northern Ireland and in particular to:

    —  increase and sustain committed participation, especially amongst young people;

    —  raise the standards of sporting excellence; and

    —  promote the good reputation and efficient administration of sport.

  The Council is the Lottery distributor for sports good causes in Northern Ireland. We receive 2.6 per cent of the Sports Good Cause funding which, in 2000-01, we expect to generate an income of £7.367 million.

  2.  The SCNI is concerned that the use of the Barnett's principle to distribute sports good cause funding across the UK is a flawed concept. As the region of lowest population in the UK, sport in Northern Ireland receives by far the least percentage of Lottery income. This, however, does not reflect:

    —  the costs of running a distribution system;

    —  the funding threshold required for "large" projects; and

    —  the degree of structural, social or economic need.

  The SCNI believes that the inquiry should look closely at this distribution principle. Perhaps a core grant (same for each region) with the remaining funding distributed on the Barnett's principle would overcome these difficulties.

  3.  The recent QUEST Report highlights measures to make Lottery funding more accessible to groups with limited resources/capacity. The SCNI believes that these aspirations, in some cases, contradict the audit requirements and competitive nature of Lottery awards. The inquiry should consider how the audit requirements can reflect the desire for a "lighter touch" assessment process.

  The SCNI also believes that increases to the number of good causes and resultant reduced income to distributors creates more vigorous competition. This, in turn, requires the distributors to acquire more information from applicants if they are to make awards to the most worthy causes.

  4.  The SCNI would have serious concerns about any increase in the number of good causes. With an income forecast (medium scenario) of only £6.8 million for 2002-03 any further reduction would seriously minimise the ability of the SCNI's Lottery Fund to make any significant impact on sport in Northern Ireland.

  5.  The SCNI would like to emphasise to the Committee the principle that Lottery funding should be additional to, and not replace, core Government expenditure. The SCNI would encourage the Committee to consider this issue as part of the inquiry and reinforce this principle for the future.

July 2000

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