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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 18:14 GMT

UK Politics

Overhaul for lottery grants

Lottery grants totalling £7bn have been allocated since 1994

The National Lottery grant system is to be revamped in an attempt to ensure more money is awarded to deprived communities.

An internal investigation has begun inside the Department of Media, Culture and Sport to explore ways of making the grant process simpler and cheaper.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith has also called in experts from the Plain English Campaign to simplify application forms by removing "gobbledygook".

Mr Smith said he feared that smaller, more local projects were missing out on their fair share of lottery money.

"One of the problems at the moment is that the procedures that have to be gone through are burdensome and daunting," he said.

"I am looking at ways in which we can make the application process simpler and more understandable, and how we can make it easier for people in deprived neighbourhoods to put in applications."

Plain English

[ image: Chris Smith: Application process must be simplified]
Chris Smith: Application process must be simplified
"We are, for example, consulting the Plain English Campaign to advise on how to simplify the forms."

He told the New Statesman magazine: "We need to differentiate between bids for millions of pounds and, for example, a bid by a local pensioners' group for a mini-bus."

Although lottery awards amounted on average to £90 per head of people in the UK, former coalfield areas in the East Midlands had received only £23 a head and in some areas the figure was as low as £6, Mr Smith said.

Separate application forms were currently printed by each of the award-granting bodies - the Arts Council, Sport England, the National Lottery Charities Board, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Millennium Commission and the New Opportunities Fund.

A five-strong team of officials called QUEST (Quality Effectiveness and Standards Team) has been ordered to study the cost and complexity of making lottery applications.

They are expected to complete their investigation by January and report to Mr Smith, and ultimately to the lottery boards, on how to make the process "easier and simpler" for the tens of thousand applications made each year.

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