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Since it launched in 1994, the National Lottery has raised around £34 billion for ‘good causes’ (as at October 2015). The money for good causes is distributed out of the National Lottery sales revenue by the operator, Camelot, to the National Lottery Distribution Fund. In the latest financial year, this money amounted to around 25 percent of sales revenue, totalling nearly £1.8 billion. Over time, these funds have then been distributed in a number of different ways. The current funding model involves the National Lottery Distribution Fund allocating 40 percent to the Big Lottery Fund for ‘charitable, health, education and environment’ grants, and 20 percent each for sports, arts and heritage grants (each being distributed by distribution bodies set out in the amended National Lottery etc Act 1993).

In total, excluding some monies allocated to the 2012 Olympics or towards the Millennium Fund, the Department for Culture, Media and Sports records that these areas have benefited from the following grants since the National Lottery began:

  • Charitable (including health, education and environment): 255,706 grants, totalling £12 billion
  • Heritage: 29,380 grants, at a total value of £6.7 billion
  • Arts: 98,359 grants, totalling £4.7 billion
  • Sport: 78,200 grants, at a total value of £5.5 billion
  • This Library Note explains this funding model in further detail, and then briefly considers the distribution of grants by sector (including a breakdown by the current individual distributing bodies). Due to the difficult nature of assessing the ‘contribution’ of National Lottery support, the Note concentrates on the financial support provided, briefly highlighting the sorts of projects for which grants have been distributed. The Note also contains information on the geographical nature of the grants.

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