UK: Final Olympics budget revealed
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell is due to set out details of the final budget for the 2012 London Olympics amid fears that costs have been spiralling out of control.
There has been speculation that the bill for hosting the Games has risen to up to £10bn, four times the original estimate of £2.4bn. Delays in setting the budget have caused frustration among MPs and heightened concerns about the financial processes put in place by the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the Olympic Delivery Authority. At a stormy session of the Commons public accounts committee last week, officials were accused of presiding over a "pig in the poke" and "Alice in Wonderland" finances. MPs on the committee were told that question marks remained over the level of the security budget and the scale of the contingency fund which the Treasury is insisting must be put in place. There have also been concerns over where the additional cash will be found, with fears that good causes around the country will be hit as money is siphoned off from the National Lottery to make up the shortfall. The Local Government Association (LGA) warned that the costs must not fall "disproportionately" on council tax payers and that the final budget must be "realistic". "The Olympics is an opportunity to inspire a new generation of young people to play sport. It will act as a catalyst for creating jobs, promoting volunteering and an opportunity to build stronger and safer places where people can thrive," said Chris White, chairman of the LGA culture, sport and tourism board. "Local government has thrown its weight behind the Olympics on the condition that costs are not disproportionately born by the council tax payer or indeed at the expense of other public services. But it is equally important for a successful Games that the budget be a realistic one. "The Government has a very tough decision to make over the future funding of the Games and councils will be keeping a close eye on the impact of any such decision on charities and voluntary groups in their areas."