Olympics costs now a matter for NAO

Whitehall’s financial watchdog, the
National Audit
is to urge ministers tomorrow to agree a final budget for the
Olympic Games in the first of a series of reports.

Gordon Brown is also to be warned that he must end uncertainty over who will
foot the bill for the London Olympics, or risk damaging the Games.

This comes amid as speculation of soaring costs associated with the Games.

The bill, The Daily Telegraph reports, could now be as much as ?8bn
– more than three times the ?2.375bn quoted when London won the bid in 2005.

The figure was in a confidential PricewaterhouseCoopers report, commissioned
by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and obtained under a Freedom of
Information request by Private Eye magazine.

The NAO’s report is expected to highlight the risks of not sorting out the
budget, and is also expected to warn that it is difficult to make an assessment
of value for money and financial controls until the final figure is agreed.

The NAO is to review the structures which are in place, to deliver the event
and mechanisms designed to ensure value for money.

The official, revised budget for the Games will only be published next month.
Treasury sources insist that the timing of the budget announcement is a matter
for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport but the Conservatives are
convinced that Brown is making the decisions.

Conservatives last night called on Tessa
, the Culture Secretary, to explain the discrepancy in the figures.

A spokesman in her department said she had not misled MPs and the discrepancy
was because PricewaterhouseCoopers had included ?400m that would be met from
private sponsorship, not from public funding.

MPs were amazed in November to hear that part of a ?900m increase was to pay
for consultants who were hired to help keep costs down.

Further reading:

Cost control bill sees Olympic budget soar

Tories demand Jowell statement on Olympics
VAT bill

Huge Olympics overspend likely to hit

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