The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has dismissed claims by the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that it, and other fund distributors, are hoarding more than £2 billion that should be spent on community projects.
In a report looking at the workings of lottery funding, PAC members have urged the Government to set targets for reducing the cash mountain sitting in bank accounts.
PAC chairman Edward Leigh said: “ There is no shortage of high-quality projects to fund but the enormous sum of £2.4 billion was stuck in limbo in May of this year — in part because the distributors are too timid to apply their own policies for committing funds.”
The HLF has hit back at the claims, saying all the cash in question is earmarked for projects that are under way.
HLF director Carol Souter said: “Lottery money is putting parks right back where they belong — at the heart of their communities’ lives. Every penny in the bank belongs to real projects to draw down as they progress — we cannot spend that money twice. Getting that money out as fast as possible remains a top priority and, as the PAC noted, we already pay quickly and provide cash up-front for smaller community projects.”
The HLF spends up to two years’ income in advance that is not yet in the bank, essentially mortgaging the funds. A representative said: “The only time we would keep money back is if a project looks like it is running into trouble, which is a very rare occurrence.”
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