Decision to abolish State funding for lotteries will damage charities

Rehab says decision by Alan Shatter will damage core activity of helping the disabled

The Rehab Group and Rehab Lotteries Ltd claim a decision by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to end funding under the Charitable Lotteries Scheme will damage their core activity of helping the disabled and the disadvantaged. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The Rehab Group and Rehab Lotteries Ltd claim a decision by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to end funding under the Charitable Lotteries Scheme will damage their core activity of helping the disabled and the disadvantaged. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 16:34

A decision to phase out and ultimately abolish State funding for lotteries run by private charities will do irreparable damage to the Rehab Group, the High Court was told today.

The Rehab Group and Rehab Lotteries Ltd claim a decision by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to end funding under the Charitable Lotteries Scheme willdamage their core activity of helping the disabled and the disadvantaged.

The court heard Rehab has received around € 80million since the scheme was set up in 1997.

Out of a total fund of € 6 million in 2012, Rehab received the bulk of the monies, €4.4 million, and that fund is to be gradually reudced to € 1 million before being completely abolished in 2016.

Last October, Minister Shatter wrote to Rebab saying that due to the economic situation and the need to reduce government expenditure, it had been decided to phase out and ultimately abolish the scheme.

Rehab brought a High Court challenge to the decision which the Minister is opposing.

Opening the challenge today, David Holland SC, for Rehab, said the scheme was actually 65 per cent funded by the National Lottery surplus while the Exchequer provided the remainder. The state of government finances was well known, but the National Lottery’s finances were “burgeoning,” he said.

The Rehab scratchcard, and those operated by other charities, could never have competed with the unlimited prize fund of National Lottery’s products because the charities prize fund was limited by law to € 20,000, counsel said.

The scheme set up in 1997 was a compensation scheme and not some well meaning grant aid system for charitable bodies in their endeavours, counsel said.

It was also not, as suggested by the Minister’s side, set up to improve the competitive position of the charities vis-a-vis the National Lottery. This was nonsense, Mr Holland said.

In its action against the Minister, Rehab is seeking a number of orders from the court including one quashing the phasing out and abolition decision along with a declaration that he failed to take into account relevant considerations before taking the decision.

Rehab also says the Minister failed to act in accordance with fair procedures by failing to afford it (Rehab) the chance to make any submission before taking the decision to phase out the scheme.

The hearing continues.