Thursday, March 15, 2007

£9bn... Do I Hear £12bn?

Having just come out of a horrific accountancy exam this lunchtime, I'm loathe to start talking about numbers. However, with today's confirmation that the official cost of the 2012 London Olympics has hit £9.3bn, I'm afraid I can't help myself.

When I last blogged on this and mentioned a figure of £10bn, the official cost was still £2.4bn. Nonetheless, the following day (21 November 2006), it was announced that costs had increased by £900m to £3.3bn.

Appearing before the Commons culture, media and sport committee, Minister Tessa Jowell told us that this rise was partly due to a doubling in the price of steel, along with a decision to revise transport costs to take into account inflation (!) in the years to 2012. It also included an extra £400m to pay "delivery partner" CLM to make sure the games came in on budget and on time.

Jowell duly gave assurances to the committee that 'This project is under control. Cost control is a daily part of the rigour'. Yet just four short months later, another £6bn has been added to a figure which, according to Jowell, already represented a project 'under control'.

This is just one project amongst many big infrastructure projects due to come 'on-line' around 2012, including the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link, an Edinburgh Tram Network and the start of a replacement Forth Road Bridge. Since the date of the Olympics can't move, the only variable that can be altered is the amount of money we throw at the project, doubtless to the detriment of the costs on other projects - and don't the contractors just know it.

'Dripping roast' doesn't even begin to describe the bonanza that awaits the construction industry at our expense. Most public sector projects seem to run over budget and behind schedule, but the shower of blisteringly incompetent Panglossians we have in government right now seem determined to set some new kind of Olympic record of their own. Quite frankly, I wouldn't even trust them to sell union jack tat to spectators outside the games.

No comments: