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WISHART URGES RETURN OF OLYMPIC UNDERSPEND TO LOTTERY LOSERS

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Questioning the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the House of Commons today (Thursday) SNP MP Pete Wishart called for the £476m Olympic contingency underspend to be returned to vulnerable groups and communities who missed out after lottery money was diverted from good causes to support London 2012.

Mr Wishart has long argued for the return of £114million in lottery money diverted away from Scottish good causes to help fund the London Olympics. Estimates of Scottish Lottery bodies direct contributions to the 2012 Olympics based on Scotland’s share of the various UK good causes are:

* £73 million from the BIG lottery fund in Scotland

* £18 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund

* £13 million from sportscotland

* £12.5 million from the Scottish Arts Council

* £1.8 million from Scottish Screen

Mr Wishart said:

“It is great news that the Olympics have come in under Budget, but instead of disappearing into the Treasury black hole, this money should be returned to the good causes across the UK who lost out when lottery funds were raided.

“As much as £114 million in lottery money was diverted from Scottish good causes to support London 2012, and that money should now be returned so it can benefit vulnerable groups and communities.

“With charities facing a funding downturn as a result of the UK Government’s cuts and austerity agenda, returning this money would be the right thing for the Treasury to do.”

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A transcript of Mr Wishart’s exchange with the Minister of State is set out below:

Pete Wishart MP: Following the question from the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr Foster), can the Minister guarantee and assure the charities and good causes that have lost out to the Olympics that they will get the contingency underspend? Surely they deserve it, and it should not go back to the black hole of the Treasury.

Hugh Robertson MP (Minister of State): Under an agreement concluded by the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell), as soon as the land sales are completed on the park, the lottery will be repaid; indeed, that memorandum of understanding was improved when the transfer was made from the old Olympic Park Legacy Company to the new London Legacy Development Corporation. As I say, I do not want to get into discussions about how we might spend a putative underspend until we have actually delivered it. The key thing is to make sure we deliver these games on time and substantially under budget.

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