British charity Directory of Social Change (DSC) have blasted the Government for failing to repay money they claim is owed to charities and communities used to fund the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The money, which they claim is around £425 million ($665 million/€594 million), was diverted from the Big Lottery Fund by the Labour Government in 2007, the DSC allege, sparking outrage among several sectors of Britain.
The adverse reaction caused the Government to pledge to repay the money but they have now said it could take up until 2030 to return the funds, leading DSC to accuse them of shirking the issue.
DSC claim this has led to “thousands of charities losing funding because this money went missing from one of our sector’s most important grant-makers”, adding that if the money is repaid, it will benefit 10,000 charities and improve the lives of around eight million people.
The organisation are leading the campaign to have the cash returned, with DSC director of policy and research Jay Kennedy alleging the Government have “refused to respond to appeals” from supporters of the Big Lottery Refund.
“August 12 marks a three-year anniversary of shame - London 2012 ended in a spectacular blaze of glory but for charities the fireworks have well and truly faded away,” he said.
“Four hundred and twenty five million pounds in Lottery cash was raided from charities and community groups across the UK to support the Olympics and this debt has yet to be paid back.
“In fact, it's over three months since the new Government took office and they have so far refused to respond to appeals from Big Lottery Refund campaign supporters.
“They are dragging their heels - we simply have no idea whether this new Government will honour the massive debt it owes to Britain's charities.
“We need this money paid back now, not in 2030.”
As well as lambasting the British Government for a prolonged period of inaction, Kennedy has called on those currently in charge to address the problem.
“[Prime Minister] David Cameron has a massive opportunity to redress this wrong, to support vulnerable people and vital causes across the UK, and it need not impact the Government balance sheet,” he added.
“In the past his Ministers have said they are confident that the money will be eventually paid back, but since the General Election they have said nothing.”
The news provides the latest blow to London 2012 as a whole, with negativity surrounding the legacy of the event causing Sports Minister Tracey Crouch to launch a wide-ranging public consultation on sport in the United Kingdom amid growing concerns that the country is failing to live up to the promises it made during its successful bid to host the Games.
Around 222,000 people stopped undertaking regular activity in England from October 2014 to March 2015, according to Sport England, and Crouch is aiming to ensure that public funding is targeted at those organisations who can deliver in encouraging people to get involved in sport and physical activity.
"We have always been clear how money will be returned to good causes after the Olympics," a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport told insidethegames.
"The national lottery distributors are entitled to £675 million ($1.05 billion/€948 million) of receipts from the sale of the land on the Olympic Park and this is due to happen in the mid 2020s."
August 2012: Olympic land debt will not cost London taxpayer "a penny" claims Deputy Mayor
November 2011: Mayor's adviser denies "stitch up" over Olympic debt and heralds "clean break" deal
November 2011: London taxpayers facing £231 million Olympic blackhole
October 2010: London Assembly warns of multi-millon pound Olympic Park blackhole
July 2010: Government agree to £438 million Olympic Park land transfer