17:16 Monday 20 January 2014

Charity in plea for support to save weekly lottery

Written byRICH GUTTRIDGE

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A CANCER charity which supports families in Burton and South Derbyshire is calling on people to help them in their battle to save its weekly lottery - which if scrapped could see it lose £1 million in funding each year.

St Giles Hospice said the potential closure of the competition, due to a proposed Government cap on what organisations can spend on non-commercial lotteries, could see it lose six beds at its Whittington-based hospice and would be ‘disastrous’ for patients, as reported by the Mail on Saturday.

Bosses are now hoping MPs and supporters in the region will back their campaign to save it.

The Department for Media, Culture and Sport is considering capping what is spent on lotteries at 15 per cent.

St Giles currently spends 50 per cent of lottery proceeds on its running and the prize fund, with the rest used for hospice care.

The charity insists running the lottery on 15 per cent of its income simply would not be viable.

Commercial manager Richard Simmonite said certain aspects of the lottery had to be run as a business.

But he added St Giles puts far more towards hospice care than the National Lottery gives to charitable causes and accused Camelot - which runs the National Lottery - of trying to create a ‘monopoly’ after it publicly backed the proposals last year.

He said: “Roughly 50p in every pound goes the hospice and we have been very successful doing what we do.

“A lot of smaller lotteries don’t give anywhere near that and even the National Lottery doesn’t give 50p in the pound. In that respect it’s a very good business which provides a stable income for the hospice.

“Over the years we have reduced our costs but we have a lot of overheads. We still have to contribute heat and lighting. People still have to have salaries - sales teams, admin and collectors. We have marketing and production costs in the leaflets and literature that we have to distribute. To limit it to 15 per cent just wouldn’t be realistic.”

Mr Simmonite said local backing was crucial to saving the lottery.

He said: “I am sure we can come through this. We hope we can raise the profile with local MPs and that people in the area will show their support.”

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