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Monday, 28 May, 2001, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Pledge on Lottery cash
Labour has announced plans for a new National Lottery fund to target £150m at some of the country's most deprived areas.
And it has set out a wider commitment to devolve power and resources to local communities if it wins a second term.
A re-elected Labour government would channel lottery funds into 50 poor communities currently missing out on project funding, ministers announced at the party's election news conference on Monday.
Chancellor Gordon Brown said the annual fund would give disadvantaged areas a fairer share of lottery cash, and would help solve local problems by "giving power back to the people".
Labour's lottery plans follow complaints that London and other affluent areas have enjoyed an unfair share of the grants.
The party believes that large organisations are using their administrative strength and know-how to beat smaller groups to lottery cash.
Culture Secretary Chris Smith said Labour had inherited a National Lottery system that "favoured the few and not the many".
"Those people who knew how to work the system, the experts in form-filling and bureaucracy, were the ones who got their pet projects funded," he said.
The new Communities First Fund is aimed at dispelling these concerns, and promises to give local areas more influence over how the money is spent.
He said: "Problems once addressed by the state acquiring more power can be solved today only by the state giving much of the power back to the people."
The average level of Lottery funding is currently £75 per head.
But Labour has acknowledged that many areas across the country - particularly those that are most deprived - are missing out, receiving well below the national average.
And it has named some of the places likely to benefit from the new fund, including Torbay, Darlington, Great Yarmouth and Knowsley.
During Labour's morning news conference Mr Brown dismissed Tory claims that preparations for the euro could cost as much as £36bn.
He said: "The whole emphasis of the Conservative campaign is now to run a one issue obsession about the euro."
The government's five economic tests on joining the euro would have to be assessed before any referendum question could be set, he added.
The Tory leader, William Hague, dismissed Labour's announcement on lottery funding as "a bit of spin".
He said: "With a diminishing amount of lottery money available, Labour are taking money from some good causes to give them to others.
"I don't think people will be fooled by it."
And shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth said the Conservatives wanted the Lottery to operate as it was originally intended, "free of government interference and for the benefit of regeneration and other worthwhile projects".
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