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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.

BBC Media Correspondent Torin Douglas reports on moves to make lottery fairer
There has been concern for some time that parts of the UK such as the East Midlands have received much less money than areas like London and Scotland.

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.

[ image: Community groups will benefit from National Lottery grant changes]
Community groups will benefit from National Lottery grant changes
Earlier this year Culture Secretary Chris Smith asked the bodies that distribute lottery money, such as the Arts and Sports Councils and the National Lottery Charities Board, to ensure all regions and parts of society benefited.

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.

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