Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

London Games warned over reduced contingency funding

Olympic Village under construction
The construction of the Olympic Village is publicly funded

Cuts in contingency funds for London Olympics could leave organisers with less "room to manoeuvre", the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned.

The Games remain on track and on budget but there were "plenty more hurdles to jump", Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said.

Last year £621m was withdrawn when the media centre and the Olympic Village, in east London, became publicly funded.

A Culture Department spokesman said it is "not complacent about the risks".

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) plans to raise £2bn from the private sector for the event and so far the project remains within its £9.32bn budget, the NAO observed.

But the contingency fund was reduced when promises of more money from the private sector fell through due to the recession, resulting in the construction of the Olympic Village and the media centre in Stratford becoming entirely publicly funded.

'Yet another bill'

Mr Leigh said: "With just under two-and-a-half years to go, there are plenty more hurdles which the delivery team are yet to jump.

"But with less contingency funding available, the room for manoeuvre has been reduced.

"The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games must also work with Government to ensure Locog at least breaks even to prevent the taxpayer having to pick up yet another bill."

Amyas Morse, the head of NAO, said it looked "increasingly likely" that the project would be delivered on time and on budget but stressed on the need to focus on the legacy "to get the best out of the Games both for the taxpayer and local people".

A Department for Culture spokesman said: "It is good news that the NAO report confirms that the Olympic and Paralympic project is on time and on budget and has responded well to the different challenges caused by the economic downturn.

"However, we are not complacent about the risks that remain.

"Over the last 12 months we have brought together the many delivery organisations to understand what we need to do and to explore in detail which organisation is the right one to deliver each aspect of the Games."

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