Lottery is a bad deal for the poor

Britain’s poor are losing out on National Lottery funding despite being most likely to play, according to a new report.

People in the lowest socio-economic groups are spending more on both scratch card games and Lottery draws, says theology think-tank Theos.

Yet, the group says, not enough Lottery funding is being invested back into the country’s most deprived communities.

“The Lottery might have created a new source of funding for projects that would otherwise have remained un-funded, but this has come with a high price tag for Britain’s poor”, said Theos Director Paul Woolley.

The report found that skilled manual workers are most likely to play in Lottery draws, with over 67 per cent taking part once a month compared with 47 per cent of professionals and managers.

While the average person spends £142.88 on Lottery draws each year, among those with salaries of £15,000- £20,000 the figure increases to £174.53.

Similarly, those earning less than £20,000 spend £55.39 each year on scratch cards compared with the average of £44.18.

Yet the report cites examples of deprived areas which lose out on Lottery grants.

Blaenau Gwent, the poorest area in the UK, ranks 133rd in terms of the Lottery funding it receives. Bridgend, the second poorest place, is 224th in terms of funding.

“The old argument that the National Lottery is a ‘tax’ on the poor for the benefit of the middle classes may have some justification”, said Mr Wooley.

Earlier this year the Church of England warned against new plans to double the top stakes and prizes allowed for fruit machines because of fears they could harm society’s most vulnerable people.

The proposals would put the top prize offered by fruit machines at £70 – more than weekly benefit levels. Players could pay up to £1 for each go.

“With global recession looming, unemployment rising and disposable income falling, the Government has gone back on its earlier concern for vulnerable people in response to pressure from the gambling industry,” said a Church of England spokesman.

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