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Olympics to cost Lottery groups Ł440 mln

London's good causes will lose nearly Ł500 million in lottery money as a result of funds being diverted to help pay for the 2012 Olympics, according to a report.

More than Ł2.2 billion of National Lottery funds will go towards the Ł9.3 billion cost of the Games.

London will lose Ł440 million of that lottery money, with voluntary and local community organizations suffering the most, says a report by the London Assembly's economic development, culture, sport and tourism committee.

The most likely groups to suffer are the ones expected to help the government reach its target on sports participation, the report said.

The government wants to increase the number of physically active people by two million by 2012.

It also wants to increase participation in cultural activities as part of its four-year Cultural Olympiad program.

“The priorities that underpin the decision to use Lottery money to pay for the 2012 Games are not merely questionable but self-contradictory,” the report said.

“The concern here is that by taking money away from the arts, heritage and grass-roots sports sectors, the diversion of Lottery money will make it harder for some of the goals associated with the London Games to be realized.”

The committee recognized the opportunities the 2012 Games would bring London, but raised major concerns at the government's “overly optimistic” plans to use the sale of Olympic land to partially reimburse the Lottery.

The government, in a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007, said it expected the land to fetch Ł1.8 billion, but the London Development Agency has since revealed that it is working on the basis of a more conservative estimate of Ł838 million.

That would result in the Lottery being repaid just Ł136 million instead of the planned Ł675 million.

The Lottery would also not receive any repayment until 2021/22.

“There is a serious risk that some projects and organizations will disappear in the interim,” the report added.

“The delay strengthens the committee's concern that by depriving broader arts, heritage and cultural activities of funding over the period building up to the Games, the diversion will leave them in a shrunken and de-motivated state after the event and do long-term damage to London's cultural scene.” (Reuters)