CHARITIES and community groups are begging the council not to scrap a 'lifeline' lottery fund over fears it may contribute to gambling addiction.

Basildon Council’s lottery funding looks set to be axed after council officers recommended the council terminate its agreement with partner Gatherwell Limited.

Committee members will convene on next week to decide the fate of the lottery which raised more than £20,000 since the first draw in December 2019.

“Despite community lotteries being classified as ‘low risk’ by the Gambling Commission, it still constitutes a form of gambling and could exacerbate problem gambling that can contribute to addiction and financial hardship within the community,” council documents state.

But community groups say they are reliant on the funding.

“During lockdown we were unable to do a lot of fundraising and the lottery provided us with a regular income of about £1,000 a year which has been great. It will be quite an impact on us to lose it,” Michael Jones, of Radford Park Residents Association in Laindon, said.

The group organises social events to bring together those who would otherwise find themselves isolated.

“The gambling link seems a bit far-fetched. People see it more as a convenient way to contribute to their community rather than a way to get rich," Mr Jones added.

Former mayor of Basildon David Burton-Sampson said he was “outraged” at the news the scheme he launched two years ago was under threat.

“Now is the time for the council to grow this vital resource, but instead we see councillor Baggott and co giving their best performance of Scrooge and axing it just before Christmas whilst reportedly investing council funds in a new mayoral mace,” he said.

Leader of Basildon Council Andrew Baggott said: “I can confirm that no council funds or taxpayer money will be used to fund a mayoral mace. With regards to the community lottery scheme, I am uncomfortable with residents using gambling to get themselves into debt for the sake of supporting good causes. The council provides and will continue to provide significant support to the voluntary sector and local community groups through a number of grants and discretionary schemes.

“Since the lottery scheme began in 2019,  £20,980.80 has been raised for good causes in the borough. In that same period, Basildon Council has issued more than £500,000 to local community groups and causes."