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DCMS has appointed Paul Sweeney to head up The National Lottery Community Fund on an interim basis as the government continues to search for a permanent Chair.

Sweeney will fill the position for 12 months until 1 August 2024, at the appointment of Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer and compensated with an annual salary of £40,000.

The incoming interim Chair’s career has predominantly been in not-for-profit organisations in Northern Ireland, having most recently undertaken trustee roles at several such groups focusing on regeneration, culture and young people.

However, he has gained experience of the lottery sector via his tenure as Chair of the National Lottery Community Fund’s Northern Ireland Funding Committee, coordinating investment in good causes in the region.

He joins the National Lottery Community Fund at a major turning point for the UK National Lottery, which is due for a seismic change in management in February 2024. 

Czech-founded multinational lottery operator Allwyn is set to take the reins from Camelot UK, the sole operator of the National Lottery since 1994. To further streamline the transition process and clear some legal challenges to its licence assumption, Allwyn acquired Camelot from the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Fund (OTTP) earlier this year.

Throughout the contest for the Fourth National Lottery licence – which covers a period of 10 years – good cause funding was a regular talking point. For example, Olympians appeared in front of parliament to disclose the extent of National Lottery funding impacts on their support and training.

Allwyn has emphasised that maximising good causes funds will be a key area of focus for its management of the National Lottery. With a public spotlight having fallen on this area, Sweeney will be conducting some vital functions in his interim position.

Further back in his career, Sweeney was Director of the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust between 1987-1994, supporting community-based self-help initiatives, before joining the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) in 1994 on secondment.

Starting as a community development and reconciliation adviser, he later assumed the roles of Deputy Secretary in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, Permanent Secretary in the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure and Permanent Secretary in the Department of Education.

DCMS affirmed that Frazer named Sweeney as interim Chair following consultation with the Commissioner for Public Appointments and in line with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments.

Under the Governance Code, Sweeney was required to declare any ‘significant political activity’ he may have been involved in over the past five years. 

This includes holding office, public speaking, making a recordable donation or candidature for election, none of which have been declared by the interim Chair.