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Final 2012 bill unknown, says spending watchdog

Question marks still hang over the size of the final bill the taxpayer will face to cover the cost of the London 2012 Games, the Government’s spending watchdog has said.

The National Audit Office (NAO), in its latest report on preparations for the Games, notes that the final cost is “inherently uncertain”.

The timings for handover of the £269M Aquatics Centre in July and the Athletes Village in January 2012, to Locog (the London 2012 Games organisers) are now “becoming tight,” the NAO said.

Progress with the complex operational planning needed for Games time has strengthened. The £9.3bn Olympic project can boast that five of the 24 main Olympic Delivery Authority-run building projects are finished and set for handover.

Confidence is high that the other projects will be ready on time.

The overall cost to the public purse of security during the Games has increased from £600M to £757M, the NAO reports.

This is mainly because the Government has now agreed to provide £282M from the £9.3bn public sector funding package to help secure the perimeter of the Olympic Park and other venues during the Games.

This is offset by a possible £125M saving on wider security and policing.

The NAO, which had called for final figures and a statement of responsibility on venue security to be confirmed, notes that some progress has been made.

Of the original £2,747M contingency in the public sector funding package, £974M remains.

With almost 80% of the ODA’s construction programme complete and all known areas of uncertainty resolved, risks have been reduced.

The NAO warns there are no guarantees the remaining contingency will be enough to cover further unknown risks to the Games.

The NAO called on the Government Olympic Executive (GOE) to have plans for how it will meet any need for extra funding that can not be met from within the contingency.

“Good progress is being made in the preparations for the 2012 London Games which will begin in 17 months,” said National Audit Office head Amyas Morse.

“All construction and infrastructure projects are forecast to be completed on time, albeit in two cases with little room to spare before the deadline for handover to Locog and operational planning has improved.”

“However, the final cost of the Games to the taxpayer is inherently uncertain and as the Games near there will be less flexibility to make savings in response to any unforeseen financial pressures.”

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