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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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WARNING OVER TORY PLAN TO CUT CASH FOR DESERVING PROJECTS

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

SCOTTISH GOOD CAUSES AT RISK OF LOTTERY LOSS

The SNP has warned that hundreds of good causes and worthy projects across Scotland could lose out on millions of pounds of funding if the Tories get into power.

The Conservatives have vowed to get rid of all non-voluntary and community sector (non-VCS) Big Lottery Fund awards if they form the next London Government – with Tory frontbench spokesperson, Jeremy Hunt MP, explicitly stating: “one of the first things a Conservative Government will do will be to restore the Lottery to its original four good causes. The Big Lottery Fund will – explicitly –only fund projects in the voluntary and community sectors.”

In an answer to a Parliamentary Question from the SNP, the London Government revealed that in the last 4 years £312 million has been awarded to statutory bodies across the UK by the Big Lottery Fund. In Scotland hundreds of non-VCS organisations, the vast majority of them schools, benefited from over £4 million of lottery cash last year alone.

The money has been used to help initiatives across Scotland from sensory gardens for severely disabled children to training for those suffering from autism to educational support for pre-school children.

In Banff & Buchan, local examples of awards included £9000 granted to Whitehills Harbour Commissioners' project to enhance the harbour; over £4000 to Longside School for a long-jump pit and primary decathlon set, down to £495 for Kininmonth School's netball project as part of the 2014 Communities programme for the Commonwealth Games.

Commenting on the shock plans, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said:

“David Cameron’s plans would strike at the heart of the important work these organisations are doing for people in Scotland.

“What the Conservatives are trying to package nicely as “restoring funding” will actually mean funding cuts for these good causes. These organisations will effectively be cut off from the cash on which they rely. What is especially distasteful is that these projects are initiatives like sensory gardens for severely disabled children or training for those suffering from autism or educational support for pre-school children.

“A lottery grant has proved to be the winning ticket for many deserving projects, allowing them to flourish and expand. Almost all of this money went to schools through Awards for All. Are the Tories really saying school children shouldn’t benefit from lottery funding?

“The great irony is that the Tories claim they want a lottery independent of the government but one of the first things they plan to do if they get into Downing Street is dictate to the Big Lottery fund what they can and can’t support.

“These findings will be a dramatic warning for voters of the price Scotland will pay if the Tories get into power, and this will be a key election issue on the doorsteps.”

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