Parliament’s spending watchdog has launched an inquiry into whether the National Lottery operator Camelot is failing the good causes it was set up to fund.
Concerns have been raised after auditors found that Camelot’s profits over a seven-year period increased by 122% and have been proportionately greater than sales or the returns for good causes.
The National Audit Office (NAO) report released on Wednesday reveals that National Lottery income for good causes fell by 15% over the year to April and is expected to drop again next year.
The findings have prompted Westminster’s public accounts committee to launch an immediate inquiry. Meg Hillier, the committee’s chair, questioned whether Camelot was operating within the National Lottery Act.
“Profits increasing while money for good causes falls really does go against the spirit of the act. We need to dig in to how such a huge increase in profits can occur,” she said.
The lottery’s overarching objective is to maximise returns for good causes, by selling products in an efficient and socially responsible way.
The NAO report points out that lottery players have turned away from draw-based games and are instead playing scratchcards, which give a significantly smaller amount to good causes.
Camelot’s accounts show that lottery sales increased by 27% (£1.5bn) to £6.9bn , between 2009-10 and 2016-17. Over the same period, , returns for good causes increased by 2% to £1.5bn and Camelot’s profit attributable to its shareholders increased by 122% (£39m) to £71m.
The National Lottery, currently run by Camelot UK Lotteries Limited (Camelot), aims to raise money for good causes in the arts, sports, heritage, health, education, environment and charitable sectors.