An external company will be appointed to run Birmingham City Council’s new People’s Lottery in a bid to raise more funding for arts, sport and culture projects.
The council’s Cabinet has officially taken a first step towards running a lottery which it hopes will support cultural activity in the city at a time when both City Council funding, and grants from organisations like the Arts Council, are being cut.
Conservative council leader Mike Whitby announced his intention to develop a ‘People’s Lottery’ during his annual report to the City Council in October.
He told the Cabinet: “The reason why we have an impressive 33 million visitors a year is because of our sports, arts, culture and culinary offer. This Lottery could enable us to achieve our arts and sports aspirations.”
And he was backed by the Cabinet who gave council officers the green light to select appoint an External Lottery Manager, or ELM, through an advert on the council’s ‘Find It In Birmingham’ website.
This company will evaluate the business case and carry out market research, develop a plan including the prize levels and provide the up front investment needed.
A report to the Cabinet said that at least 20 per cent of the gross income must go to good causes and that the chosen ELM will need a Gambling Commission licence.
Although the Lottery won the backing of all Cabinet members, there was a note of dissent from the Chairman of the council’s scrutiny section, the Liberal Democrat Alistair Dow who warned that gambling is a habit usually taken up by those who can afford it least.
The Selly Oak councillor said: “ I remember a quote that there are two sorts of people, those that can afford to gamble and those who can’t. Unfortunately lotteries are supported by the poorer people who think they might be getting something for nothing.
“I personally am not very keen on this idea.”
But there were no such reservation from his colleagues in the ruling Tory-Lib Dem Cabinet, nor the Labour opposition leadership, all of who enthusiastically embraced the idea.
Labour opposition leader Sir Albert Bore (Ladywood) said: “I welcome this because whatever monies can be raised for good causes will be given to the culture and sport area.
“These are areas which are suffering, not just through local authority cuts but also reductions through the Arts Council and other organisations.”