Olympics bill creeps up £3bn to £12bn

GOVERNMENT figures for the cost of the London Olympics have seriously underestimated the final bill by almost £3 billion.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the cost to the public purse will overshoot the promised upper-limit of 9.3bn by almost a third, with an expected final bill of 12bn.

Among the extra spending items are 1.15 billion to buy and clean up the Olympic site; 389m for "Games-specific" transport improvements to the rail network and elite sports projects.

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The overspend appears to directly contradict the Olympics minister Tessa Jowell's statement to parliament last year that, "9.325bn is the absolute limit of public money, whether it comes from the lottery, the London council taxpayer or the Exchequer."

But ministers have insisted that the 2012 Games remain on budget, though this relates to the official 9.3bn figure for venues construction, security and transport improvements

Hugh Robertson, shadow Olympics minister, said that the government's statements on the cost of the project had been "misleading": "When (ministers] talk about the Olympic budget, it is an extraordinarily misleading term. There is really a number of different budgets that go far beyond the amount quoted."

But the government defended its figures.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "We were always clear that there would be additional spending by other public bodies in addition to the main 9.3bn allocation." He added that some of the investment would be clawed back though land and property sales.