Wild speculation over Olympic budgets will only come to an end when the ODA announces the final figure says Building's deputy editor in his first Olympic blog
The Olympic spotlight is firmly on David Higgins at the Olympic Delivery Authority. As the chief executive charged with building the stage that will host the biggest show on earth, he is understandably taking his time in preparing what is being labelled as the ‘final budget for the games’.
We are doing our best to give you the best analysis of how the money is to be spent but this is proving to be more difficult than it should be for a number of reasons:
First, although they are doing their best, the ODA’s press team is in its infancy. And due to the confidentiality of the negotiations taking place with government, there is little they can say at this point in time. We have been told that the Olympic budget announcement was due in early February… but we are still waiting.
The government still seems unconvinced by its numbers and who should be paying. Will Whitehall have to make off with some more lottery money? Will the games be exempt from VAT? And did they really expect the bidding document figures to be accurate two years on?
And what actually are we totalling up here? Is it the construction budget? Is it the infrastructure budget? Should transport costs be included? And what about the spiralling security budget (which gossip mongers allege will be used to soak up additional construction costs in the long run) or the much talked about contingency budget - which again could relate to absolutely anything, including additional security.
Whatever budget headline you’re quoting could ultimately make the difference between a £5bn and £12bn budget. You only have to look at the stadium plans. There’s a cost of £400m mooted to build it, yet Sir Robert McAlpine have tendered the ODA for around £600m to include bridges and infrastructure. It is all increasingly becoming blurred and more complicated to cost.
In the coming weeks we will know more, but not until the government and the ODA officials reach agreement, get there houses in order and communicate the situation to the public. In the meantime, remember that the the billion pound overspend shock headlines only tell part of the story.