Friday, January 12, 2007

The big Olympics rip-off

I read a lot of corporate gloss for my job but the front page of the magazine Third Sector made me sit up as it had a piece on how damaging it will be if the Big Lottery Fund is forced to divert money to rescue the Olympics and the overspend. And working in the voluntary sector I am sure the news has blown a few gaskets!

The Big Lottery Fund is the life blood for many voluntary organisations and charities. It has a budget of around of £630million to give to “good causes”. And obviously the Olympics are a “good cause”. The money the Big Lottery Fund distributes comes from the National Lottery. You know, that indirect taxing of working class people who dream that it “could be them” winning the ultimate prize when they buy lottery tickets.

It is estimated the voluntary sector will lose about £315 million if the Big Lottery Fund is “raided” to bail out the Olympics. This means, in practical terms, that the BLF won’t be able to fund any new programmes until 2013 and it would also have to make reductions of around £350million.

Sir Clive Booth, chair of the Big Lottery Fund argues that funding the shortfall, “would have a chronic and damaging effect” on the fund’s mission to help charities and voluntary organisations.
He further argues: I don’t really see why all the wonderful good cause projects should have to subsidise the Olympics beyond what we have already done”.

Tessa Jowell (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) has not “ruled out” top slicing the lottery fund but she says that any loss of money to voluntary and community groups should be offset by the benefits of the Olympics.”

This is repeated again by another civil servant who talks about the benefits” but goes further by stating that the positive rewards of the Games will “outstrip any effect created by such a diversion of funds”.

Well, try telling that to some voluntary organisation who loses their grant.

But come again? A definition of “benefits” would be useful. I mean, are we talking financial or a front row seat to watch the 100m sprint?

I think charities and voluntary organisations would like to see the dosh to fund them as opposed to some mealy-mouth rubbish spouted by a government minister who can’t control spiralling costs. This will have a serious impact on the voluntary sector as it will hit the most vulnerable and powerless in this society and ironically grassroots sports.

The government bangs on about fitness and health yet it is only too happy take money that is for ordinary sports clubs. The long term damage this could have on grassroots sport is obviously of no importance to the government. Or the fact that the money is being diverted to help spotlight elitism and individualism.

Tim Lamb (The Central Council of Physical Recreation) says:

“We don’t want to be in a situation in five years’ time where those local clubs are threatened by a showpiece event which only a small proportion of the population will visit”.

As Oscar Reyes argues:

The Olympic Games, whose five-ring symbol is recognised by around 90% of the world’s population, is the mega-event of choice in the bidding race for consumer-oriented development. But the costs of such a strategy are stark, since it can lead to greater urbanization and the deepening of the divide between core and periphery”.

The outlook for London looks pretty stormy, gloomy and debt ridden (just look at Athens who are still paying the cost of the 2004 Olympics).

These potential cuts will have a devastating, long term impact on the voluntary sector for years to come. Grassroots organisations and initiatives will be starved of funds all for an event where only a minority will be able to participate in.


Jim Jay said...

Welcome tothe blog LF - and TC - nice to see some new faces

AN said...

Can we tempt you back as well JIm?? Just for the occassional post?

AN said...

On the substantial issue. Is there any camoaign against the Olympics in London?

And there is also an impoortnat issue that it was Ken Livingston and the London Authority who applied for the olympics, not the British government. English people outsdie London, and the Scotish and Welsh gave no mandate for that application.

In so far as there is any benefit (and you are right this is highly conytentious any-way), it only accrues to London.

In principle any short fall must surely be made up for out of London's budget, not from national funding sources like the Lottery.

No taxation without representtaion!

Louisefeminista said...

I have been looking for sites and info re: anti-olympics campaigns (I read the Kevin Blowe piece and the website didn't work!). Anyone know of anything as I can't find nowt?

The other thing I didn't mention as I should have done explicitly is that cuts in the voluntary sector will have an impact on the whole UK. So people will be suffering due to some bloody stupid 2 week event in London.

Also, it is interesting that the chair of the BLF is appalled by the continuing bailing out of the Olympics. So it does look like there are splits and arguments over this. Hopefully the government will experience one rocky time.

Margaret -Manchester said...

And what about the vol sec outside london -not even a sniff iiiif all garnts have to at least have some olympics connection

Louisefeminista said...

Hey Margaret,

I absolutely agree.

That is why it is appalling as why should the orgs. outside London suffer 'cos of this 2 week jamboree. Maybe part of an anti-Olympics campaign is to call upon people who buy lottery tickets to boycott it or to demand that people have a say where the money goes. Do you want the money to go the Olympics . I wonder how many would tick the "no" box.

Thr starving of funds will have a severe impact on the voluntary sector and it has already been cut to the bone as it is. This could finish many orgs off!

Reuben_the_communist said...

great post louisefeminista. It really annoys me that whenver england dont come top of something (because of course that would be a in the natural order of things) that people start going on about how we need more money for sports. Seriously, why the fuck should we subsidise people who are thick and only enough to really worry about how many little gold medals our team wins in the olympics. Seriously its not a public service like health or education, ITS A FUCKING GAME!

AN said...

Actually the uselessness of England at sports is an intersting political issue.

As we are hoping that Scorland win a pro-independecne majority on the electins later this year - then there needs to be a debate about national identity.

At the moment the most carecteristic thing about Englishness is arguably this absurd hubris about the prospects of pampered overpaid underacheivers.

David Beckham is the architypal English sportsman, he cannot actually play anymore, but parades the celebrity jungle.

Louisefeminista said...

But isn't that just the point that sport isn't inclusive when it ideally should be? People like Beckham are held up as examples and as role models. Beckham was a good footballer but now he is advertises various brands. Probably makes more than when he was a footballer. It is all based on the "celebrity" and you have to kinda remind yourself what they are indeed famous for.....

I was reading today how much money the London Councils (used to be known as the Associated Local Government... purse holders for funding in London)and it shocked me on how much money they are pumping into the Olympics ("helping deliver a lasting legacy from the 2012 Olympic games".)

Any little bit of cash is being chucked at the Games and not to anything else. Projects and initiatives are being cut to the bone esp. BME ones but they are happilly throwing money at the Olympics. Part of the money is being used to include "disadvantaged" groups to participate some how in the Olympics. Being of cynical nature, I like to see how they are going to do this.

I am hoping some kind of radical activism will evolve over this utter stupidity. The lasting legacy of 2012, rather like Tony Bliar's leadership, will be steeped in controversy.....

Reuben_the_communist said...

I think the idea of kids having good 'role models' is generally problematic. I would much rather kids were taught that they do not need heroes

AN said...

I dunno, I think children pick up role models anyway. I really respected the fact that my father had been in the army, and he was a sort of role model for me.

I remember when i was about 10 a friend and me were on a realy long walk, and my friend wanted to rest and i said he would never make a soldier, and I was genuinely shocked when he said he didn;t want to be a soldier anyway. it never occured to me that any boy didn't want to be a soldier!

Around the same age I began to realise that if I becasme a soldier i would have to join the british and not the Russian army, and that was the end of my military ambitions.

This is all a bit of an aside, but my admiration of my father and others of his generation who actually fought fascists was a form of role model that was baswed on real virtues, bravery, self sacrifice, solidaroty.

Not the preening selfish celeb lifestyles that children are encouraged to admire nowadays.

Louisefeminista said...

That sodding blogger thing just ate my comment... And can't remember what I was saying... Bloody hell!

Obviously, blogger didn't agree with my comment... :)

Jim Jay said...

i wonder if i could train it to eat comments i don't agree with...

Louisefeminista said...

Jim: Well, it will be impressive if you do! :)