Leeds Civic Hall
Anna Addison

Member Article

Leeds councillors consider casino cash to tackle poverty

Leeds councillors are to consider proposals to set up a fund to help tackle poverty in the city using money generated from granting a licence for a large casino earlier this year.

At their meeting next week (Wednesday 4 September) members of Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to agree to the setting up of a Social Inclusion Fund (SIF) using money which was agreed as part of the process of granting a large casino licence to Global Gaming Ventures Ltd (GGV).

As part of the competition which saw GGV awarded a provisional licence to operate a large casino at the new Victoria Gate development in the city, which will also be home to John Lewis, it was agreed that the council would receive an up-front payment of £1 million, as well as an annual payment of £450,000- or four per cent of net gaming revenue (whichever is the higher)- from the first anniversary of the casino opening.

The executive board is expected to agree that the majority of the up-front payment can be invested in initiatives that support the city’s anti-poverty priorities over the three year period prior to the opening of the casino.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for economy and development, said: “The establishment of a Social Inclusion Fund’ provides a timely boost to our anti-poverty agenda at a time when on-going and unprecedented funding cuts, the economic downturn and substantial changes to the welfare system are contributing to growing concerns about the social and economic exclusion of vulnerable people in the city.

“As well as enabling us to create this much needed Social Inclusion Fund the new casino will provide a major boost to the local economy. The leisure economy already attracts thousands of visitors to Leeds, and this new large casino at Victoria Gate will add an extra dimension to the existing popular attractions in the city.”

GGV expects to create around 200 new jobs, the majority of which will be filled by people living in the Leeds area, and will employ 10 apprentices and 15 young people who are not in education, employment or training during its first year of operation.

It is also expected to be agreed that the annual payments will be used to fund projects that both mitigate potential harmful social effects of the large casino and more general social inclusion priorities across the city.

Following further discussions with elected members and the inclusion fund steering group, a further report will be submitted to the executive board later in the year, setting out the recommendations for specific activities that will be funded by the SIF.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Anna Addison .

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