Medical charities seek lottery rethink

February 28, 1997

MEDICAL research charities want changes in the applications procedure for lottery grants to avoid a repeat of the low level of applications last year.

An Association of Medical Research Charities report out this week says that during the health and care disability grants round launched by the National Lottery Charities Board, the board sent out 3,300 research application packs but only 243 medical bids were finally made, a response rate of less than 10 per cent. Of the Pounds 160 million handed out during the round, only Pounds 6.2 million went to medical research.

The report says senior NLCB staff have suggested that the poor showing of medical research is because the AMRC made a "phoney fuss" that led researchers to believe that the board would not fund medical research. But the association "does not believe this to be true".

The relatively low sum awarded for medical research is partly the result of the NLCB's general restrictions for all applications, it says. Some charities were discouraged from applying if they did not have an existing research proposal that focused on the disadvantaged.

The AMRC adds that the board required applications to be for single projects and that this had the effect of limiting the total sum applied for.

The report calls for the board to remove the limit of single-project proposals and consider including wider research initiatives. The board should also move away from "themed rounds" by, for instance, the introduction of a rolling or annual programme of grant-giving for medical research, it says.

The NLCB welcomed the association's report, adding that it always sought views on allocations and procedures from the voluntary sector to complement its own evaluation of programmes.

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