Sunday, December 23, 2018

Why is Stonewall getting money from the National Lottery?

The Sunday Times reports that the National Lottery has awarded just shy of £500,000 to Stonewall, expressly for the purpose of political lobbying (aka 'leadership, media and influencing'). Stonewall has an annual income of over £7m, and reserves of nearly £5m.

We've had a grant from the Lottery of £500k too, to help build a community centre for one of the most deprived areas in South Somerset. Our annual income (at St. Peters church Westfield) is about £17-18k, reserves are around £12k. So it would take us a few years to come up with the money ourselves, from a community which doesn't actually have those resources in the first place. One of Stonewall's founders is Sir Ian McKellen, who has an estimated net worth of $55m.

The Lottery is already a deeply flawed system for funding public goods. It is predominantly played by those on lower incomes, and the funding itself doesn't go back into the poorer communities who generate most of it. I have serious questions over why a well resourced, well connected group with nearly £5m reserves should get any of this cash at all, when we are surrounded by food banks, homelessness and local support services for children and vulnerable adults closing own left right and centre. I'm grateful to the Lottery: Building Communities team for the £1/2m that Westfield is getting, but the mission creep in other parts of the organisation is serious cause for concern.

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