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A corporate statement from David Knott, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund

This statement is in response to the findings of the Independent Culture Inquiry on the Fund and is fully endorsed by the Board of The National Lottery Community Fund (11 November 2021):

The National Lottery Community Fund aims to have a culture that is fair, inclusive and consistent for all. It was disappointing to learn that this has not been the experience.

I welcome this report providing us with a series of poignant insights provided in June and July 2021. While the origins of the report related to historical allegations, the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry were commissioned to be forward looking. In all, 41% of our staff have contributed to the report and I would like to thank all those who have done so. It has not been easy hearing this feedback, but without it we cannot move forward and progress.

Bullying, harassment and discrimination is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. Where it exists, it will be addressed with urgent action.

As the new Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, serving all four nations of the UK, I am determined to act upon all of the recommendations within the report. I would also like to build upon the strengths staff outlined in the report: our passion, our purpose and our people. These are all assets that will help us as we enter into a new phase for our organisation:

1- Immediate action on bullying, harassment and discrimination

Everyone across our organisation deserves and expects a workplace where we treat each other fairly, with respect, openness and inclusion for our differences – as Chief Executive this will be my immediate priority.

I will take immediate action so that colleagues know and can be confident in raising – independently and externally – any grievance they have. I will bring in an independent, expert organisation to improve culture and systems. I will ensure we train managers on how to handle and manage complaints and support everyone in how to raise a concern. I will deal with results without fear or favour.

We have recently put in place an Employee Assistance Programme to offer mental health wellbeing advice and support for all staff. We will be enhancing this offer with immediate effect for all staff to address any concerns raised following the findings of this report.

2 - Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

As the new Chief Executive, I have established a new cross-Fund EDI steering committee that I chair. I will ensure that we publish a strategy that sets out the specific actions, timeline and metrics we will use as a grant-maker and organisation. All steps we take towards improvement will be consistent with our renewed commitment to EDI.

We are taking action to recruit EDI advisers in our People Team and will strengthen further where we need.

We have established staff networks, recruited dedicated staff to lead this important agenda and made a commitment towards fairness and inclusion for all.

3 - Clear Sense of Strategic Direction

We clearly need stronger shared and strategic direction with a unifying mission that brings us all together. In our recent publication Putting Communities First - Our Commitments to Communities we commit that “as we emerge from the pandemic, we’ll work to renew our strategy ensuring it reflects our commitments and is purposeful for the years ahead.”

We have set out a number of the principles already that will guide our future direction. Work on strategy development will begin in early 2022 and this report will help to inform our approach.

We have already started our journey towards data transformation. We are investing in new systems that help us to understand the difference we are making to all communities and where we could do better. We will share what we learn, in the spirit of transparency and will soon publish an Impact Report that explores what we know about the difference our funding makes.

4 - Strengthening our Governance

The report contains important recommendations relating to our Board and Executive. We will work closely with our supporting department, the DCMS, and our Chair to conduct a review of non-executive and executive governance respectively and to develop and implement any changes that are required.

The statutory and regulatory framework that governs our work as a corporate body - with operational independence for the distribution of good causes - is set in the National Lottery Act (2006). We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that we remain clear and confident in how we discharge this duty.

We have recently revised guidance around our role as a Non-Departmental Public Body and developed training to ensure staff are aware of this, enabling them to execute their roles effectively.

It is the responsibility of the Executive - our Senior Management Team (SMT) - to provide visible and empowering leadership. I will take early action to prioritise a new leadership competency framework together with an enhanced performance management and performance review system.

As an SMT we will be taking immediate action to strengthen engagement and active listening as a result of this report.

We are taking an organisation-wide view on how we develop talent and ensure we have the people and skills that are best placed to serve communities. This includes recruitment to new and critical appointments within SMT that provides the organisation with an opportunity to bring in new thinking, skills and experience into important leadership roles.

5 - Transparent and Accountable Action

We will be transparent and accountable in responding to this report and its recommendations. Our people will be involved at each step - we will create immediate spaces to listen, engage and involve them and enhance our existing employee assistance support to address the issues raised.

We will report back regularly to staff on the improvements we are making and externally as appropriate. We will provide more comprehensive updates at 6, 12 and 18-month stages.

There is plenty of work to be done. It is important to say that the report notes many positives to build on. Our people should be proud of what they do, day in and day out. This has never been more clear than in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to soon publishing a new Impact Report, clearly setting out the important work happening in every corner of the UK.

As the new Chief Executive, I will be working in partnership with staff, Chair and our Board, to make The National Lottery Community Fund a great place to work. This will be in service of stronger outcomes and principles we expect – putting communities first.

My pledge to colleagues is this: wherever you are based, whatever your role and whoever you are, you can and should expect to be treated with the respect that we all deserve.

Statement from Blondel Cluff CBE, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund:

As Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund, I am committed to a fair and inclusive organisation in every respect. I was appointed in February of this year and have since appointed a new Chief Executive and fully endorse his statement that bullying, harassment and discrimination is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated in our organisation.

I shall use both my personal experience of the Fund, together with my extensive experience of public life to inspire and facilitate all that can now be done to put things right. I have and continue to be grateful for the efforts made by DCMS to support me in this endeavour, and as such welcome the recommendations of their inquiry, all of which we intend to implement.

As Chair, I will be working closely with DCMS to ensure that the report’s recommendations are implemented swiftly and effectively, to build a more inclusive culture at The National Lottery Community Fund at every level and ensure that any bullying, harassment and discrimination is quickly identified and tackled.

I am grateful for the commitment and work of the new Chief Executive in preparing the Fund for the step change it must now undertake in order to resolve the challenges that it faces. Having now received the recommendations, this places us in a position to make steady, sustainable progress without undue delay. To that avail, we have today set out a clear action plan.

Our focus for the Fund is on putting the communities of the UK first. As such, we must ensure our staff and leadership work collegiately to better serve the public at large. The Fund will therefore now embark, in earnest, on a shared mission to build trust, professionalism and effectiveness across the organisation.

I am pleased to note that The National Lottery Community Fund has delivered £1 billion to communities across the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic in support of over 11 million people. Staff can be rightly proud of their work, and I commend them all for it. In going forward, I seek to raise the Fund up to become a globally recognised centre of excellence in our mission to support the diverse peoples and communities of the UK to thrive and prosper, delivering that mission in a professional, respectful and enabling environment in the best interest of all concerned.


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