MINISTERS at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in London are ignoring pleas from their Scottish counterparts for help to avoid catastrophic cuts hitting artists and athletes.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Sport Minister Aileen Campbell have written to Westminster’s Karen Bradley asking for help in making up a huge shortfall in National Lottery funding worth millions.

Scotland has already seen its share of money from the lottery cut by 14 per cent between the 2015-16 financial year and 2016-17.

And so far, in the first half of 2017-18, there’s been another four per cent cut.

Campbell wrote to Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Bradley in March, but has yet to receive a reply.

Sales of lottery tickets dropped by £670m in 2016, as a hike in the price of tickets and a lengthening of the odds of winning a jackpot, pushed punters away.

That fall meant the amount of money donated to good causes fell by £273m to £1.6 billion.

Camelot, which runs the lottery, has warned that the decline in ticket sales and support for good causes will likely continue.

Lottery income makes up nearly 40 per cent of Creative Scotland’s and SportScotland’s total income.

Already staff at both organisations are under pressure, with staff at the national sports body being offered voluntary redundancy.

The Scottish ministers say the fall in funding is also, in part, because of the UK Government’s decision to de-regulate the charity lottery market.

Campbell said: “I am deeply concerned at the UK Government’s lack of action to address this important issue.

“This huge fall in income puts the delivery of sport and cultural projects at risk, threatens jobs and could roll back some of the recent improvements we have seen in the physical activity levels of the people of Scotland.

“These year-on-year declines prove extremely challenging against the backdrop of continued austerity measures imposed by Westminster. It would be irresponsible of the UK Government to make no attempt to offset the reductions in lottery income.”

A Creative Scotland spokeswoman said they too had lobbied ministers.

“We have also made formal representation to the UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through our interim Chair Ben Thomson, in the context of the UK budget is soon to be announced.

“This sets out his concerns regarding declining revenue from the UK National Lottery and the consequent reduction in income available to our organisation and, as a direct result, to the people and organisations we support across the arts and creative sectors in Scotland.

‘‘He has also highlighted the fact that reduced income relating to Big Lottery and the Heritage Lottery Fund are also having significant consequences for culture in Scotland.”

Creative Scotland say the subsidised arts sector is hugely important, and employs tens of thousands of people.

Government statistics published last month showed Scotland’s wider creative industries growth contributed £4.6 billion to the economy in 2015, up 23.6 per cent from 2014.

Creative Scotland’s open project fund, which anyone can apply for, is predominantly funded by the lottery.

This year the national arts body will give £10.5m to different projects.

The most recent awards saw artists, musicians, community cultural centres, writers, theatre makers, festivals and organisations working across the arts, screen and creative industries, sharing over a million pounds. Awards were recently given to Greenock-based Galoshans Festival, the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre in Peebles and to Edinburgh-based publisher Birlinn to support their centenary celebrations of Muriel Spark.

Eigg-based Lost Map Records also received money to deliver Lost Map’s Visitations, a new series of releases with material generated from musicians taking part in a residency programme on the island.

Visual artist Lauren Gault received money to support the development of new work ahead of a solo exhibition in Belfast in Spring 2018.

A number of Scottish athletes and clubs benefit from lottery funding.

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said:

“We have been completely clear to Camelot that its strategic review must tackle the issue of declining National Lottery tickets. The Gambling Commission, which regulates the National Lottery, will also continue to challenge Camelot’s performance to ensure they maximise returns to good causes.”