Tuesday, October 27, 1998 Published at 11:50 GMT
Lottery losers aim to win bigger grants
Some areas of the country receive a raw deal
The government is to step up plans to ensure that all parts of the UK benefit from National Lottery grants.
It is to hold a conference next month aimed at improving take-up of lottery grants in areas which have received much less money than the national average.
The conference will be held in Barnsley, which has received less than £18 of lottery funding per head of its population, compared with the national average of £70.
The conference will bring together community leaders and representatives of arts, sports, charities and heritage.
Mr Smith also announced that Country Committees, awarding grants of up to £375,000, were to be set up in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to bring local knowledge to grant decisions.
He told the Labour Party conference: "It's not only the great and the good that should benefit from the lottery.
"It should be small-scale neighbourhood organisations, groups and charities, locally focused and locally led, that ought to be at the top of the list."
A further change brought in a new two-stage application process for grants of more than £375,000 to speed up the rejection of unsuitable projects and avoid applicants wasting time and resource.
Mr Smith also this year announced the New Opportunities Fund, using £1bn of lottery cash.
It will be used to set up after-school clubs, healthy living centres and to train teachers in information technology.