Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The legacy of the Games

On 3rd July this year, a report by Lloyds Banking Group claimed that the Olympic Games would bring in  £16.5 billion for the UK economy, creating 62,200 jobs along the way. In the shorter term, it is alleged, the Olympics will improve the public mood and encourage people to spend more money. The report looks at the benefits of the Olympics from 2005, when London was selected as the host city, until 2017. Coincidentally, Lloyds is among the sponsors of London 2012.

However, the Guardian reports today that the usual flow of international visitors and domestic travellers through London has come to a grinding halt, as thousands desert London because of the Olympics, leaving hotels, restaurants and theatres unusually empty in the last few days before the start of the Games. Many of London's five-star hotels are frantically discounting their room rates by nearly half and top restaurants are easy to book. Even house rentals are disappointing. "Many people saw the Olympic rental market as something they could cash in on, but the truth is that the supply has easily outstripped the demand." In addition, thousands of jobs ‘created’ by the Games themselves have been substituted for troops, called in to make up for the pitiful attempt by G4S to provide security at all the Olympic venues.

The official London 2012 website informs us that the building of the Olympic Park has already contributed around £2.3 billion to the economy. Which is handy because £2.2 billion of National Lottery funds were used to create the facilities to host the Games, plus a further £66 million specifically for the Paralympics, thereby "providing a legacy for the people of east London and the wider UK." The National Lottery is also playing a key role in “funding work that will lead to increased participation in sport at a community and grassroots level and deliver improved community services and facilities”. The Lottery will share in the profits made from land and property sales in the future.

And then there's The great Olympic tax swindle by Simon Birch in Tuesday's Independent.  Best just read it in full rather than me attempting to summarise it.

It is also worth noting that earlier this year the royal wedding and the Queen's diamond jubilee weekend were both sold to the gullible British public as wonderful opportunities to bring millions into the UK via, amongst other things, tourism. Three months down the line and the Treasury are actually blaming the two events for the flailing economy.