UK National Lottery pledges £600m to Covid-19 efforts

28 April 2020

The UK’s National Lottery has announced a support package worth up to £600m (€689.2m/$749.3m) for charities and organisations negatively impacted by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

Funding will be distributed over the next few months to help projects in the UK, including initiatives focused on combatting loneliness and isolation, providing care for the elderly and offering support for physical and mental health in the community.

Financial support will also be available to organisations and projects across the arts, community and charity, heritage, education, environment and sporting sectors.

The new funding initiative will include up to £300m from the National Lottery Community Fund being distributed to groups best placed to support people and communities over the next six months.

A £50 million Emergency Fund from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will be used to address pressure in the heritage sector over the next four months and provide increased investment in essential digital skills. The Arts Council in England will also issue £144m to impacted organisations in the cultural sector.

Together with the Welsh Government, the Arts Council of Wales have been able to put £5.1m from National Lottery sources into a £7m Arts Resilience Fund for Wales.

Creative Scotland has repurposed over £10m in National Lottery funds for the arts, screen and creative industries, while the Arts Council of Northern Ireland also opened a £500,000 National Lottery-funded Artists' Emergency Programme for freelance artists, creative practitioners and performers.

Elsewhere, Sport England will use £157m of National Lottery funding to support the sport and physical activity sector. Sport Wales has also announced a Sport Resilience Fund worth £4.8m, while Sports Scotland will accelerate £16.4m of investment to support Scottish governing bodies, local partners and clubs and community organisations.

In addition, the British Film Institute (BFI) has made £4.6m of National Lottery funding available to relieve pressure for organisations and individuals in the screen industries hardest hit by the pandemic. This includes emergency funding for freelancers whose contracts were cancelled, through to grants for audience facing venues that have had to close.

“The National Lottery has always supported projects that help people and communities across the UK thrive,” National Lottery Forum chair Dawn Austwick said. “The funds available are switching focus to support communities, arts, heritage, sport, education and the environment to mitigate the unprecedented pressure they are coming under as the country rallies to overcome Covid-19.”

The new National Lottery funding comes after the UK government also pledged a £750m package of support for UK charities. Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, praised the National Lottery for its additional support.

Dowden said: “In these uncertain times, lottery funding takes on an even greater significance, as we come together to deliver a national effort. So I am delighted that the National Lottery is channelling its support to help those most in need across these sectors.

“This will help to support jobs and economic growth, allowing us to support vulnerable people who are relying on us, and continue to keep Britain active, educated and entertained both during and after this epidemic.”