London bias of the lottery 'intensifies'

The bias of National Lottery grants towards London and richer areas of the country has intensified during the last year, according to a new report, writes Diane Spencer.

The Arts Council of England has given almost all of its support to the wealthier parts of the country. This is "unacceptable" says the report published by the charity, Directory of Social Change.

In contrast, the Sports Council of England is praised for its "strenuous efforts to target the most disadvantaged parts of the country by putting forward detailed and specific incentives in its priority area scheme with an energy that so far puts to shame the English arts council's vague expression of good intent".

The report found that 46 schools had grants totalling nearly Pounds 10 million from the Arts Council of England, but less than Pounds 1 million of that went to poorer authorities, as defined by the Department of Environment's criteria. Sports grants were more evenly distributed with Pounds 11.5 million going to 44 schools in well-off areas and Pounds 6.7 million to 22 schools in the poorer parts of the country.

Even so, there are still big disparities in grants which the Sports Council expects to have ironed out by 2002. Yorkshire and Humberside has half as much again in grants - Pounds 8.03 per head - than the least successful region of the East Midlands with Pounds 5.09 per head.

London is "grossly favoured" by the Arts and Heritage lottery boards. The capital got about Pounds 40 per head grant from the arts last year, twice as much as in 1995, while the East Midlands got around Pounds 3.

For heritage projects, London got Pounds 20 and the North-east, the least - under Pounds 5. But only two areas, Teesdale and Mid Devon received no lottery grants at all last year.

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