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 253.

    @251 GT1973....we all knew....
    Yes, but the problem is 'why the gov't didn't'.

    The cost is outrageous & only a few will be making the best of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    You can bet your bottom dollar the Olympic budget will go over the top and there will be backhanders handed out with everyone jumping on the bandwagon hoping to cash in.

    We only need look at the cost of insidious waste that is being generated just for the event. It's one big rip off.

    Those who can't afford to go will have to watch it on TV... that's a good start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    I am just amazed that people are surprised by this. When we secured the Olympics I think we all knew that most ordinary British citizens would not be able to get tickets. We also knew that it would probably end up over budget and that security would be a real issue at an international event held in the UK. I was not in favour of hosting the Olympics, but now we must make the best of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    Margaret Hodge, MP: 'There are question marks over whether the taxpayer is getting value for money'
    Since when did the Taxpayer ever get value for money?

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    Only 15 million bums on Olympic seats at 620 quid a time are enough to pay for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    If people want the olympics they should pay for them.
    I do not want the olympics - being of the couldn't care less persuasion - but do want a refund of money misappropriated for them.
    Big business, bungs and slime in suits? A BIG turn-off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Judging by the calibre of those running the delivery of the games, cost always was going to over run. The games however will be a runaway success for the competitors, but like every other Olympic games of recent times with the exception of China, will be a drag on the economy for the next twenty years.The suits however and some extremely mediocre British athletes will line their pockets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Another bombshell/spin or call it what ever you want - left by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - whilst they both earn millions, we the tax payers will have to pay out for years. Is it too late to pull out - surely if this government can ruin the future of so many people, decimate the armed services - bail out very rich bankers, why can't they pull the plug - just say we are bankrupt!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    228.Dungaree Dan

    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.
    Have you got a banjo & a jug you blow into as well Dan? :o)

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    If Athens in Greece could afford an Olympics, I am sure we can!

    said Brian sarcastically.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    The National Sports Associations always get the backing of the current government before they make a bid to host the Olympics.
    Image the flak any government would get if they said, 'no chance, we can't afford it'.
    Unlike the England football team, I can't see any Team GB athlete texting home, 'it's dead boring, all we do is train and compete.' while the event is on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    I have just found out how come the Olympics funding is still under budget. In MP speak, the 2.4 original estimate was at 2002 prices which now equates to £9 billion in 2012.
    So that is alright then!
    I'll will still enjoy the event regardless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.


    This is getting worse by the day, the tories should have scrapped the olympics, but then as the olympics is essentailly a big party for torty voters why would they.

    Care to share with us why Labour was bidding for and won a 'big party for tories'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    If I wanted to express my feelings over this debacle I'd be banned for life from the BBCs Have Your Say but there again, at least I would be able to Have My Say on lewisjones

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

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

    Really? This project was promoted, planned, budgets drawn up and mostly executed while we had a Labour Government!

    Sadly, 'Spent too much', is indicative of the the era 1997 to 2010...

    However, since we have spent the money, lets stop moaning and instead enjoy the upcoming Olympics in the UK!

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    5 Minutes ago
    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.

    When did I tell him that I wanted to pay for daily WWs but not eat them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    I'm really looking forward to all the Olympic-haters, whiner, moaners and doom-merchants leaving the country for a few weeks while the games are on. How much more pleasant the whole place will be without them and their mindless hatred. Don't rush back, either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    What a joke. There has been no justification to wasting so much money on these games. They will only benefit London and nowhere else in the country, except perhaps Portland for the sailing. I for one will not be wasting my time watching it one TV. So many better things to do. But there will some who will enjoy them I suppose. I hope they realise the cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    This is getting worse by the day, the tories should have scrapped the olympics, but then as the olympics is essentailly a big party for torty voters why would they.

    As far as who should pay for this, maybe these millionaire athletes could contribute.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Give them 'bread & olympics'.


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