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Tuesday, December 22, 1998 Published at 07:25 GMT


Lottery donations hit £1bn

Rolling in it: Lottery winners have amassed millions too

The National Lottery Charities board is due to give £360,000 to a children's centre in east London, bringing the total amount allocated to charity to £1bn.

BBC Correspondent Rachel Ellison: Lucrative despite being dogged by controversy
Hundreds of grants have been given out to children's projects, training schemes for the homeless and for work with older people or the disabled.

But in the four years since the lottery was launched there has been controversy.

[ image: Just the ticket for old people's groups]
Just the ticket for old people's groups
Only 4.7p from every pound spent on Lottery tickets goes to the National Lottery Charities Board.

And charities claim that donations have gone down because people are buying lottery tickets instead.

Collections in churches are also said to be suffering.

[ image: Children have benefited from the lottery]
Children have benefited from the lottery
However, it will be all smiles on Tuesday when Culture Secretary Chris Smith sees the handover of £359,063 by the Charities Board to the Children's Discovery Centre in east London.

The centre was set up last year and the grant will help create what is described as an "innovative and exciting" new interactive learning centre for young children, their families and carers.

Social Affairs Correspondent Rachel Ellison: Charities claim donations are down
Peter Eatherley, the centre's development manager, said: "This project will make a real contribution to the literacy and educational achievements of the children of east London."

The centre's aim is to "expand the horizons" of local children through stimulating and educational hand-on exhibits, workshops and play projects.

[ image: Chris Smith:
Chris Smith: "Significant landmark"
Mr Smith said the award was a "significant landmark" for the Charities Board.

He said: "The government wants to see the lottery offering something for everyone and I congratulate the Charities Board on its efforts to ensure that money goes across the country to organisations in greatest need."

Here are some of the National Lottery's headline-making grants on the way to hitting £1bn:

  • In November National Lottery charity chiefs handed over £200,000 to a nationwide gay helpline - it prompted criticism as the Board was accused of favouring gay and minority groups.

  • Also in November the south Yorkshire town of Barnsley was earmarked for National Lottery cash - it was the first time an entire town had been targeted a bid to improve a low uptake of grants in coalfield communities.

  • In July 1998 the Cusichaca Trust, based in the village of Belbroughton in Worcestershire, was awarded £300,000 to breed giant guinea-pigs in Peru.

  • National Lottery prize money not claimed before the 180-day deadline all goes to the Good Cause Fund - by June 1998 the fund had topped the £150m mark.

  • In March 1998 the National Lottery Charities Board gave £220,000 to a farm supplying pigs with underfloor heating, snout-operated showers and snacks in the shape of toys to prevent them becoming board. The 100% grant was awarded to the Whirlow Farm Trust in Sheffield.

  • A Muslim community centre granted £375,000 of National Lottery money insisted on giving the money back - saying their holy book, the Koran, stated it should not benefit from gambling.

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