The National Lottery recently celebrated its 20th birthday, and now a new national lottery, the Health Lottery, has been launched. How cynically surprising that the launch came as the Health and Social Care Bill was being steamrollered through the Houses of Parliament!
The purpose of the Health Lottery is to provide local funding to 51 grouped local authorities for locally determined health projects. So £20 billion is being slashed from the NHS to fund the privatisation measures of the Health and Social Care Bill and a private entrepreneur offers a paltry £50 million, perhaps per year, to healthcare provision, roughly £2.5 million per local authority area. London local authorities have lost over £5 billion in Osborne’s austerity budget alone.
So who owns the Health Lottery? Richard Desmond, whose wealth is estimated at £950 million, owner of Channel Five, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and several subscription porn channels. How will the lottery work? For every £1 ticket sold, 20.3p will go to health. If that equates to £50 million a year as forecast then Desmond’s company will clear £200 million. As a “society lottery” it avoids the 12 per cent lottery duty which the National Lottery pays. Charities already committed to providing funds for hospices and hospitals see this as an exercise in profiteering, robbing charity Peter to pay charity Paul. When are we going to stop being delusional about lotteries and return to proper planned funding for the public services we need? ■