Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ministers Know It's the Softest Target; ANALYSIS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ministers Know It's the Softest Target; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

FOR the hard men of the Treasury, the Big Lottery Fund is a relatively soft target.

It hands out [pounds sterling]600 million in funds, but the diverse nature of the schemes it supports makes it more rather than less vulnerable to a Whitehall raid on its purse.

Despite ministers' promises that consultations are still going on, Lottery funds were identified months ago as the target for an Olympics overspend. In October (shortly before a [pounds sterling]2billion overspend was revealed in this newspaper) a Treasury source told the Standard the Lottery would be the first port of call.

The only alternative source of money under a memorandum of understanding drawn up for the Olympics bid was the Mayor of London - in other words, the council tax. Ken Livingstone promptly said the burden on London was high enough.

Challenged to respond, Tony Blair admitted: "I think Ken is basically right."

Giving evidence to a Commons committee a month later, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said no decisions had been taken. …

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