Lottery projects lack accounting skill

The call came from Commons watchdog the Public Accounts Committee amidst concern that in some cases a lack of supervision has resulted in projects failing to proceed as planned.

In one bizarre case at an adventure playground project, £16,000 of lottery grant money was used to pay off an Inland Revenue debt, resulting in the entire outstanding grant being withdrawn and a refund demanded.

MPs put it to the Charities Board ‘that some groups come from deprived areas and cannot afford to use an accountant or solicitor’.

But the Charities Board claimed a survey showed while this could be perceived as a barrier, application forms were manageable.

The committee said the scale of grant giving meant any shortfall in performance put very large sums at risk and estimated that out of grant awards totalling £460m, between £65m and £145m ‘could have been given to projects which were not delivering the intended level of service’.

The Charities Board admitted there had on occasions been long delays obtaining self-assessment reports from project organisers and had commissioned an analysis of risk to enable them to focus grant management and monitoring more effectively.

PAC chairman David Davis said he was pleased most projects were doing well but a proportion went off track ‘and there is little evidence of those bodies learning from their mistakes’.

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