Olympics ‘boosted UK economy by £10bn’

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins with their gold medals. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins with their gold medals. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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LAST year’s London Olympics gave the UK economy a £10 billion boost and created thousands of jobs, exceeding the government’s hopes, according to a new study.

The report by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government department which promotes UK businesses, put contracts, sales and foreign investment in the last year down to the Games.

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

However, the claims were met with scepticism by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and CBI Scotland – and the Scottish Government pointed out that the bulk of the economic benefit was felt in London.

Scotland hosted only football matches during the Olympics. In addition, the Games also saw London receive extra lottery cash at the expense of other parts of the UK.

The UKTI report said strong progress had been made against all the commitments made by organisers, including an increase in volunteering, 1.4 million more people playing sport at least once a week than in 2005 when the bid was won, and the legacy of all the permanent venues on the Olympic Park secured within a year of the Games.

The total benefit to the UK from hosting London 2012 could reach up to £41bn by 2020, said the report.

Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable rejected suggestions that the report had attributed to the Games economic activity and investment which might have taken place anyway.

He claimed companies which had been considering investing in Britain were persuaded to do so as a direct result of the Olympics.

However, FSB national policy chairman Mike Cherry questioned whether the benefits of the Olympics were felt outside London.

He said: “Out in the regions, we found that the effect of the Olympics and Paralympics, and the contracts we were expecting, really didn’t materialise as much as I suspect many people were hoping for.”

SNP sports and culture spokesman at Westminster Pete Wishart said: “The Olympics were supposed to bring opportunities for businesses all over the UK, but unfortunately it seems that firms in Scotland and other parts of the UK were an afterthought when lucrative contracts were awarded.”

Director of CBI Scotland Iain McMillan said: “It is true that it was a London event and most of the effects were felt in London, but there was some ripple effect.

“Certainly, none of our members complained about lack of opportunities to bid for contracts for the games.”

UKTI said the £9.9bn of economic benefit included £5.9bn of additional sales from Olympic-related activity such as business events held in Britain during the Games.

Meanwhile, Sir Keith Mills, deputy chairman of London 2012, was made knight grand cross of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen yesterday.

Dressage Olympic gold winners Laura Tomlinson and Carl Hester were also at Windsor, to receive OBEs.