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Government to review how Lotto funds are given to charity after concerns about 'transparency' of system

Charities Institute Ireland raised concerns about Good Causes funding last December.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE GOVERNMENT WILL review how funding returned to the Exchequer from the National Lottery is redistributed to good causes around the country. 

Premier Lotteries Ireland, which runs the lottery, returns almost around 30% of the money paid for its products to the State as required under the terms of its licence.

Confirmation of the decision by government comes months after a group representing over 200 of Ireland’s most prominent charities contacted Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath to raise issues with transparency around the so-called ‘Good Causes’ system.

Premier Lotteries Ireland is required to return around 30c out of every €1 spent on Lotto products. 

Under the Good Cuases scheme the funding is then assigned to a range of projects in areas such as sports, culture, the arts, the Irish language, heritage, health and youth services.

Money is assigned to charities by government departments and offices who have policy responsibility in each of those areas.

McGrath announced a review of ‘Good Causes’ funding today to ensure that money given back to the government by the National Lottery is distributed in a transparent and effective manner.

“It is absolutely critical that members of the public and the people who play the National Lottery are fully aware of how this funding is accessed and distributed to ‘Good Causes’ projects,” he said.

“They must be able to see, on the ground, how ‘Good Causes’ funding benefits their communities.”

The review is expected to commence in the coming weeks and to conclude in the second quarter of next year.

The announcement follows a letter sent to McGrath by Charities Institute Ireland (CII) last December which raised concerns about how ‘Good Causes’ funding is distributed.

The letter, released to The Journal under the Freedom of Information Act, explained that CII met with representatives from Premier Lotteries Ireland late last year after several of its members described “difficulties with the process” to apply for funding.

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“At the meeting, a number of issues and challenges were identified within the current process,” CII told the minister.

“These crossed a number of areas, but key challenges expressed included a perceived lack of transparency across all aspects of the process; clarity around when the fund opens for applications; how the process works, what the scale of the grants is; and a lack of consistency in administrative aspects of applications.”

CII further claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic had shown up “outdated” aspects of the ‘Good Causes’ funding system, with hard copies and physical signatures required as part of the application process, which it said had proved difficult to supply during lockdown.

“It is apparent that the process is causing significant difficulties for many charities who are struggling to be awarded funding as a result of problems with the system.”

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