London 2012: Olympic security cost raises concern among MPs

The Olympic Stadium on 6 March 2012 The Olympic Stadium "must not become a white elephant", say MPs

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MPs have raised concerns the London 2012 Olympics may go over budget and said it was "staggering" initial estimates about security costs were so wrong.

The Public Accounts Committee's report also warned the stadium must not become a white elephant.

The government insists it is confident the event will come in under budget.

The Games and legacy projects are expected to cost about £11bn, the report said.

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said: "The venues and infrastructure of the London Olympic Games are on track to be delivered on time and within budget.

The minister for sport Hugh Robertson denied any overspend

"The Olympic Delivery Authority's management of the building programme has been exemplary.

"However, the £9.3bn public sector funding package is close to being used up and we are concerned about whether the running of the Games will be held within budget.

"Taking into account costs outside the package, the full cost to the public of the Games and legacy projects is already heading for around £11bn."

'Weak negotiating position'

Mrs Hodge said the committee was "particularly concerned" about the significant increases in the security bill.

"Locog (the London organising committee) now needs more than twice the number of security guards it originally estimated and the costs have roughly doubled.

"It is staggering that the original estimates were so wrong."

Margaret Hodge, MP: 'There are question marks over whether the taxpayer is getting value for money'

The report states Locog has been forced to renegotiate its contract with G4S for venue security from a "weak negotiating position".

Mrs Hodge added: "There is a big question mark over whether it secured a good deal for the taxpayer."

Locog's original estimate for the number of security guards in and around the venues was 10,000 - a "finger in the air estimate", according to the PAC report.

The government announced in December that figure had more than doubled to 23,700.

Security costs from the Olympics budget have risen from £282m to £553m.

The report said: "Locog itself now has almost no contingency left to meet further costs, even though it has done well in its revenue generation."

On legacy, the PAC report raises concerns over sports participation targets and the stadium after a deal for West Ham United Football Club to take it over was scrapped.

Start Quote

Most people will look at all this and find it meaningless to quibble over which department is spending what on the Olympics”

End Quote David Bond BBC Sports Editor

Mrs Hodge added: "We were promised a strong Olympic legacy but the government has chosen not to adopt the target of one million more people participating in sport by 2013 and plans for the stadium have fallen through.

"It must not become a white elephant.

Legacy 'unclear'

"The government is dispersing responsibility for delivering the legacy and we need clarity about who is accountable."

The report states that with only 109,000 new people regularly participating in sport against the original one million target - which the new government chose not to adopt - the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had got "poor value for money" for the £450m spent through national governing bodies.

"It is unclear what the sporting participation legacy of the Games is intended to be," says the report.

The DCMS rejected the figure of £11bn of public money being spent on the Games and defended the legacy aims.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

A DCMS spokesman said: "With 140 days to go until the Olympic Games, we are on time and under budget, with over £500m worth of uncommitted contingency remaining.

"We are in a strong position and, while we can't be complacent, are confident that we can deliver the Games under budget.

"As we told the PAC in December we do not recognise the figure of £11bn. We have always been transparent about what is included in the £9.3bn.

"The cost of purchasing the Olympic Park land will ultimately come back to the public purse through the resale of the land after the Games and was therefore not included.

"Funding for the legacy programmes, that the PAC refer to, comes from existing business-as-usual budgets and we have been clear about this. These are for projects designed to capitalise on hosting London 2012 but are not an additional Olympic cost."

The DCMS said the legacy included regenerating part of east London and tenants had been secured for six out of eight venues on the Olympic Park.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    It'll just be like everything else.

    If it's a rip-roaring success,the current Govt. will claim all the credit,if it's a dismal failure,the previous one will get the blame.

    I enjoy watching some sports,and admire the dedication of the participants,but I won't be in floods of tears,one way or t'other,as it's a totally transient experience......once the 565th slo-mo replay has finally ended.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    wish i had 9 million quid to waste on my fave pet white elephant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    I don't live in London. All I can see are acres of London dug up for a vanity project started by Labour and continued at an accelerating cost by Boris and Co.

    As for Margaret Hodge, heavily involved in London2012, from the beginning and other MPs worried about costs now - spare us your fake concerns - too little too late.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    23700 'security guards'?!?! Where are they coming from? Why does the Olympic disgrace need 3x the total police force in Northern Ireland? G4S are supplying about half of these (at 60 times their original profit margin); where's the rest coming from?
    What 'security' will they be doing?
    Good grief...

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    @126.meldrewreborn - I believe in Keynesian economics too but there is still such thing as a waste of money, just because you're spening money doesn't mean it couldn't be better spent elsewhere. Consider using £3bn to reduce the deficit, £3bn to support SMEs and a further £3bn injection into the ailing public sector? Instead we put on a show for a few weeks and own a large white elephant. Smart

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Deliriously happy for you "Dungaree Dan" An interesting choice of username. Any special significance we should know about?
    Nah. My name's Dan and I wear dungarees. But interested to know what you thought it meant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    179. Dungaree Dan

    Deliriously happy for you "Dungaree Dan" An interesting choice of username. Any special significance we should know about?

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Following the "unforeseen" costs of these Olympics. I hope that "lessons will be learnt".

    The first lesson is that for ALL future major projects (lets start with the HS2) that the minister in charge and the Prime Minister of the day give a PERSONAL guarantee of the budget - after all it's my (and your) money they are spending.

    If it goes over they should be PERSONALLY liable for any extra.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I'm not sure who is the author of the BBC piece that led to this HYS debate.

    Re-read it several times and it's still confusing - not unlike the mantra of the olypmic committee making the most money from the olympic confusion run by the inept. Who are the inept? Who is running it? Well thousands of consultants led by Lord Coe! A hiding to nowhere then?

    I hate sports events run by governments!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    The whole farce that has been the way this debacle has been handled
    just shows how politicians--Coe and co. were handed a private company to set up a get-rich-quick scheme at the --quess whose expense--thegood ole' taxpayers!
    What an utter disgrace--what an utter waste of public money--yet again.
    Cost is now estimated at nearly £11 billion.
    Wonder if Coe and co.will be at the sprint final?

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Enjoy what?
    Watching people run round in circles, throw giant tooth picks and giant minstrels - oh and not to forget jumping into swimming pools and doing lengths. Yes rivetting stuff and well worth £9.3 billion +

    > Quite. Tickets for the 100m men's trot come in over £1000. I hope the spectators enjoy that at ~£100 per second.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.


    Enjoy what?

    Watching people run round in circles, throw giant tooth picks and giant minstrels - oh and not to forget jumping into swimming pools and doing lengths. Yes rivetting stuff and well worth £9.3 billion +


    What do you enjoy for recreation? Watch ballet and opera perhaps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Let the archers, discus and javelin throwers, boxers and wrestlers look after the security.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    China's 'defence' budget up by 10%!

    How badly do they want to top the medals table?

    And why's it not called an 'attack' budget?

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    i'm glad it made you smile.......more of it please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    According to Ken Livingstone it was only going to cost us a walnut whip per week. Half a walnut whip for the likes of him of course, paying half the tax of the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    How much more is this going to cost us - the taxpayer- so that we can be inundated on tv watching people run around a track. The price is staggering and still rising. Why oh why did France not get it. France must now be very very happy that they did not win the prize.£9.3 billion - how many people have been put on the dole to pay the way for some athletes to strut their stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Overbudget? Well personally I think the people who should put their hands in their pockets are the UK competitors themselves, after all the games is put on solely for them to take part, also LOCOG, the sponsors and all the ministerial people responsible. Need some more? Then charge the people who attend as they leave the stadiums. Keep those who didn't get involved out of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Is there actually anyone in this country who seriously expected the Olympics project to come in within the original budget?

    It's a government-sponsored project - they always go over budget, usually by a multiple of the original value.

    And we are always being told how "talented" our leaders are!

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    A prestige project like the Olympics was never going to come in on it's original budget. It's a true 'White Elephant', in the original meaning of the phrase.
    I'll reserve my judgement on the 'success' of the event to see how much of the 'legacy', ordinary Londoners enjoy.


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