Public funding for the community sector is sinking fast. Our youth budget is miniscule. Discretionary grants are evaporating. Faced with similar gaps in funding, some councils have launched local lotteries giving up to 60% of the ticket price to local good causes chosen by residents. It is time that we considered running a lottery for Shropshire. At next Thursday’s Shropshire Council meeting, I will be asking council officers to investigate the case for a countywide community lottery.

Ten days ago, the Shropshire Star reported that more than half of the services run by voluntary organisations in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin are under threat. In its leader column, the Star said:

“We have a situation in which the work of the voluntary sector is experiencing heavy demand because of various welfare changes and spending cuts, and yet the same spending squeeze is hampering and even destroying its ability to respond.”

I don’t think that we will see a quick return to local government giving the financial support that communities, volunteers and charities need to provide services that are vital for the wellbeing of our county.

That means we must wire support for our local causes differently.

Most voluntary services already are great at raising funds. But many rely on a contribution from public funds to ensure that they are stable. Once you commit to proving a service, you need to keep on going. It is often vital that the local authority backs a community service to give it the street cred to raise money and get matched funding.

That’s why I think a council backed lottery could be a good idea.

If we decide to go down the path of launching a Shropshire lottery, we will not be the first to do so.

Aylesbury Vale is a Buckinghamshire council that represents 166,000 people. Its Vale Lottery raised £75,000 in its first year and is on course to raise around £100,000 a year now it is established. Shropshire alone has a bigger population than Aylesbury Vale. Joining forces with Telford would make sense as many of our good causes cross the local political border. That would give us a potential market that is nearly three times bigger than that of Aylesbury Vale.

The Vale Lottery was the first council lottery to be established. Its model is attractive because purchasers get to chose where 50% of the ticket price goes. That encourages volunteers to go out and sell the online tickets. Another 10% goes into a general good causes fund for the area.

It costs money to run anything and 17% goes to administration and 3% is sacrificed to the Treasury in VAT.

We are not talking about big stakes in this model of a lottery. It costs a quid to enter the Vale Lottery. Purchasers have a 1 in 50 chance of winning a prize ranging from three free tickets to £25,000.

The bigger stake, of course, is that we could raise new money for community causes at a time when Shropshire Council is looking more and more like Mr Scrooge.

12 thought on “Should we run a county lottery to replace community funds that Shropshire Council won’t now provide?”
    1. This is why it is important to have nominated causes. So it the cause is, say, Ludlow Assembly Rooms, the money would be spent on that.

  1. Regretably, I can only sgree with Helen, with Shrop C’s record to date, on which I can only comment Sick, Sicker, Sickest … but with untouchable, independent control of clearly defind process and purposes, I have to accept that this could be the only way we are likley see any community funds while the Cons remain in power at any level.

    What is happening at Grenfell Tower by the way?

  2. But the money is there..
    Its earmarked for the purchase of shopping centres.
    This ‘we have no money’ rubbish is nothing short of a lie.
    This issue should be the only one on any agenda.

    1. I’ll be writing about this in a few days time. Basically, the law prohibits local councils from spending capital receipts from the sale of buildings, etc. on services. Capital must be invested and the income used. So we can buy a shopping centre but not have enough money to fund a local play group.

      I think the rules are daft but they are laid out in statute.

  3. If we could have a Ludlow Lottery I’m sure that would be well supported. Shropshire? No.

  4. Forgive me, but it seems insensitive to be asking rhetorical questions such as this when your council are publicly saying they have no money and offloading services, whilst simultaneously entering into a speculative property transaction.
    This is people taxes that are being played with, facts are more important – how much, where’s the money coming from, where’s the revenue going to, projected costs.. for your council to be taken seriously, it needs to take the people it serves seriously.
    As for a lottery to pay for the Assembly Rooms, here’s an idea..
    Ensure that it’s run as a business, then it will generate income over expenditure and pay for itself.

  5. All lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at maths. Public services are best funded by public taxation, although the current Council tax is a poor way of doing that. It would be better to level a local income tax that can be collected through the existing tax system.
    We are in this financial mess because the Unitary council pursued policies based on dogma as a result of which we have lower council tax than we should and a £120 millon shortfall developed over seven years. Current policies seem just as bizarre; £21m on a road that will be just as congested in two years as it is now, and who knows how much on shopping centres that are being offloaded by prudent insurance companies because everyone is now buying online. Prudent property investment would be in warehouses out of town.
    A regulation making councillors personally responsible for financial decisions made with public money would go a long way towards stopping this kind of speculative activity. Keith Barrow led the council into penury, resigned and just walked away (actually took a holiday in the Caribbean)

  6. These decisions are made because there is, in at least appearance, reactive rather than proactive opposition.
    There is a culture of ‘aren’t the council terrible’ from it’s councillors, whilst not addressing issues head on, or objectively informing the taxpayer.
    Keith Barrow, and those following, got away with things because they were allowed to.
    Why would a speculative mention of a lottery take precedence over informing us about the shopping centre purchase details?

  7. It seems strange that Shropshire Council is looking at buying shopping centres when the largest owners in the country of shopping complexes announced last week that they are to dispose of several as they are not profitable. Another white elephant for Shropshire.

    On the question of a lottery, I personally think it is wrong to raise money for local services using a gambling option.

  8. Sorry to keep on this point….but have we not had enough of ideas from various “followers” of all party inclinations and ” new arrivals” in our County to know that any ideas put forward by our so called SC always revolves around Shrewsbury and north of the County. We in the South are the forgotten community.
    Maybe we should opt for the change in boundaries and be part of North Hereforshire. .?

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