Government defends 2012 trade boost
Published 19/07/2013 | 00:18
The Government has defended a new study showing a near £10 billion trade and investment boost to the UK economy as a result of last year's London Olympic and Paralympic Games, creating thousands of new jobs.
A report by UK Trade and Investment said businesses had secured contract wins, additional sales and new foreign investment in the last year.
The report said strong progress had been made against all the legacy commitments 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.
Independent research projects that the total benefit to the UK from hosting London 2012 could reach up to £41 billion by 2020, said the report.
Business Secretary Vince Cable rejected suggestions that the report had attributed to the Olympic effect economic activity and investment which might have taken place anyway. He said companies which had been considering investing in this country were persuaded to do so as a direct result of the Olympics.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The analysis that was done on inward investment involved actually talking to the companies who were making inward investment and asking the very simple question 'Would you have invested otherwise?'
"The answer we've had with a lot of the high-profile investment - like the Malaysians in Battersea Power Station - is that a lot of the key negotiations and support came out of the events that we organised around the Olympics. Would this have happened anyway? Some of these activities clearly would, but the Olympics were a key catalyst in making those investment decisions real."
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This £9.9 billion boost to the UK economy is a reminder to the world that, if you want the best, if you want professionalism, if you want jobs done on time and on budget then you should think British.
"With companies across the country we are harnessing the Olympic momentum and delivering the lasting business legacy of the Games that will help make Britain a winner in the global race. But that's not where the good news ends. The Games are also delivering a strong social legacy. Last summer, Games Makers changed the way Britain views volunteering. Since then, thousands of people have been inspired to get involved with their local sports clubs."
The national policy chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, questioned whether the Olympic effect was felt outside London. Mr Cherry told the BBC: "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."