The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:
“Following the extraordinarily successful 2012 London Games, a mood of confidence and pride swept the nation–and a feeling that this country can get big projects right.
“Invaluable experience and skills were acquired in putting on the Games. We hope that the lessons learnt from this success will be applied to future major public sector projects.
“Equally the public sector must learn from things that went wrong, like venue security and the availability of tickets for the general public.
“We all want the momentum of the Games to be maintained. They need to be shown as having longer term consequences for this country. The legacy programme is therefore crucial and must be delivered in full.
“A lot of organizations, central and local, have responsibilities for the many individual projects making up the legacy programme, in such areas as business, tourism and increased sports participation.
"We expect the Cabinet Office to exercise strong leadership, coordinating all of this diffuse effort and ensuring the legacy as a whole is being achieved.
“The volunteers at the Games did a fantastic job. We need to capitalize on that success but there is a danger of the volunteering legacy fizzling out. The Cabinet Office must demonstrate that it is not missing the boat, so that there is a lasting volunteering legacy both within sport and beyond.
“Lottery good causes lost money during the period running up to the Games. They need to be assured that they will get some of this back from the financial returns secured from the development of the Olympic Park.
"The Lottery provided more than £2 billion towards the costs of the Games but has little influence over decisions by the London Legacy Development Corporation about the timing and value of sales over the next two decades.
"It is not clear that their interest is being adequately promoted and protected.”
Margaret Hodge was speaking as the Committee published its 40th Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Home Office, LOCOG, the Ministry of Defence, G4S, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Cabinet Office, examined the staging of the Games and plans for delivering the legacy.
The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games were a great triumph for London and the whole country. Our athletes excelled, tens of thousands of volunteers made a fantastic contribution, and the opening and closing ceremonies were widely praised.
The success of the Games demonstrates that it is possible for government departments to work together and with other bodies effectively to deliver complex programmes. The government’s preparations were led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (the Department); the Olympic Delivery Authority delivered the construction programme on time and within budget; and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) ensured that the events themselves were so well organised.
We now expect the government to build on the success of the Games by putting the lessons learned from delivering the Games to the best possible effect in delivering other major projects. In this report we make a number of observations and recommendations which are designed to ensure that this happens.
The £9.298 billion Public Sector Funding Package for the Games is set to be underspent. We welcome the Department’s commitment to reflect on what more it can do to present costs in a way that goes further and brings out those costs associated with the Games and the legacy that are not covered by the Funding Package.
The notable blemish on planning for the Games was venue security, which was a sorry episode. The costs and scale of venue security were vastly underestimated before 2011, and could only be met from the Public Sector Funding Package due to underspends elsewhere.
G4S then agreed a contract for providing the necessary security guards, but failed to deliver fully. Thankfully, the armed forces and police were ready and able to step in—we acknowledge their very impressive ability to do so at short notice, and the huge contribution they made to the successful security operation, which passed off without any major problems.
During the Games a large number of accredited seats went unused at events for which the public demand for tickets could not be met, and it is a shame that so few tickets for popular events were available to the UK public. For example, only 51% of tickets for the men’s 100 metres final were available to the UK public and only 47% of tickets for the track cycling.
International sports bodies and media organisations wield a lot of power and it cannot be easy for individual event organisers to push back at their demands. But, learning from the experience of the London Games, the government, possibly alongside other governments and event organisers, should challenge demands for large numbers of accredited seats.
It is now up to the London Legacy Development Corporation to attract investment in the Olympic Park and generate the promised returns to funders. We are concerned that the lottery good causes do not have any clear influence over decisions about future sales, despite these decisions directly affecting how much will be available to them and when.
On the wider legacy, we look to the Cabinet Office to provide strong leadership to ensure delivery of the longer term benefits, on which basis the public spending was justified, including opportunities for business, tourism and increased sports participation on the back of the Games.
We are keen to see the government building on the success of the volunteering programme, but are not convinced that it is doing all it can to learn and disseminate lessons and to encourage volunteering opportunities both within sport and beyond.