Michael has called for Government to help end national lottery provider Camelot’s complacency in a Westminster Hall debate on the future of society lotteries on Tuesday (12).
Intervening early in the debate, Michael said: “Whether one admires Camelot or not, is not the real difficulty Camelot’s length of tenure as an operator? It becomes more and more difficult to know whether it is performing as well as possible. The metrics simply are not there due to the monopoly that it has enjoyed.”
Society lotteries are different from the national lottery in many ways. The main difference is the prize cap: society lotteries are limited to 10 per cent of the value of any one draw. Most high street charities run society lotteries, raising money for good causes such as cancer research, military charities, disability support charities and animal welfare charities.
Michael made the point that society lotteries are not in competition with the national lottery and that what they do complements it. Because the causes for which society charities support are often locally based on peoples’ doorsteps, the case was made for the regulations and caps on society lotteries to be lifted and raised for the benefit of charities in constituencies across the country.
The local MP joined the cross-party calls for Government to give society lotteries the freedom to succeed and consumers the choice of causes to support.
Intervening on the Minister’s response to the debate, he said: “No one doubts the success of the national lottery. It is an enormous achievement and we should be very proud of it. But how do we know whether a quarter of a century further on it will continue to be as successful as it could be?”
The Minister replied that the Government and Gambling Commission are constantly reviewing the national lottery, but recognised that there needs to be a healthy mixture of lotteries, signalling that the government will take action on the points raised in the debate.
Michael visited the Leonard Cheshire Disability care home in Chipstead last week to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of its founder’s birth.
Leonard Cheshire Disability is a major health and welfare charity working in the UK and around the world. It was founded in 1948 by RAF pilot Leonard Cheshire and works to move disabled individuals toward independent living.
Michael met Kevin Parkes, Service Manager, and Deputy Managers, Anne-Marie Pert and Shelley Conneely, who introduced him to the care home’s oldest resident. Staff were dressed in early 20th century attire in honour of the centenary and there were tea-dancers performing to live music.
‘This is a great example of what can be achieved through community effort’, Michael said. ‘The charity’s projects support the Government’s wider efforts to get more disabled people into employment. Together we will work to finally close the disability gap.’
Michael has expressed his delight at the progress the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) has made in the past year. As the charity’s President, Michael recently met with the Chief Executive, Dr. Tom Pey, to discuss future projects.
In January 2017, the Royal Society for Blind Children and Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), which was based in Sevenoaks, merged to create RSBC. The new charity has the patronage of Her Majesty The Queen and employs 100 people.
At the meeting, Dr. Pey informed Michael that, by 2020, he hopes the charity will have helped 11,000 blind and partially sighted children and young people in England and Wales. The charity recorded an annual turnover of around £3.7 million.
Dr. Pey and Michael reviewed the recent success of RSBC’s new social innovation organisation, Wayfindr, which aims to improve independent travel for vision-impaired people. The new indoor-navigation programme, which was successfully tested on London Underground, is going global and has attracted the support from organisations such as Google.
Michael said: ‘With income up, more innovation, and ambition sky-high, it’s great to know such a vital charity is doing so well. I am proud to be part of RSBC, which originated here in Sevenoaks, and commend Tom for all his hard work.’
Michael visited Chevening Financial in Sundridge on Friday to congratulate them on becoming the first ever recipient of the Small Business Big Heart Award.
He was met by representatives including David Hawes-Gatt, Managing Director of Chevening Financial, and heard about the business’ work and contribution to the community.
Chevening Financial secured the title after stiff competition from small businesses across the UK. It was selected as the winner in recognition of its eight-year long programme of community support. This includes taking housebound pensioners out for shopping and socialising, with Mr Hawes-Gatt clocking up 4,000 miles in total to date. The company is donating its £1,000 prize money to DEBRA, a charity it supports which helps people with the genetic skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).
Michael said: “I was delighted to be able to congratulate David and his team at Chevening Financial in person for receiving this award. Becoming a regional finalist was impressive; winning the national competition is a quite remarkable achievement. I am proud that a business in my constituency is playing such an active role in the community and I look forward to hearing more about its work in the future.”
On his latest day in his constituency, Michael also discussed healthcare with local commissioners, visited the Parents’ Consortium in Hextable and met representatives from Swanley Town Council.
Michael was welcomed on Friday to Rural Age Concern Darent Valley’s Cottage Day Centre in Fawkham.
Greeted by Chief Officer Liam Curran and Trustees including Cllr Madeleine Rogers and Cllr Faye Parkin, Michael met clients and heard about the charity’s exciting expansion plans.
The day came after his visit to Age Concern’s refurbished shop in the centre of Swanley in April.
Michael said: “I was delighted to meet clients and staff at the day centre. It offers a vital service for older people living in rural areas in the north of my constituency. We need facilities like this to be bigger and even better and I look forward to supporting Age Concern’s efforts to expand.”
Last Friday Michael visited Age Concern’s charity shop in the heart of Swanley. The recently-refurbished shop supports the work of Rural Age Concern Darent Valley.
Michael is a strong supporter of the charity’s services, which include the Cottage Day Centre in Fawkham.
Michael was met by Chief Officer Liam Curran, who showed him the state-of-the-art till system that has been introduced into the shop. They were joined by local district councillor Fay Parkin and some of the charity’s Trustees.
On his latest regular day in Sevenoaks and Swanley, Michael also visited local businesses and met Chief Inspector Roscoe Walford of Kent Police to receive an update on falling crime levels in the constituency.