19 Jul 2013

Have Olympics and Paralympics really boosted trade?

The London Games delivered a £9.9bn trade and investment boost, according to the government – but some small businesses say there was little benefit to the country outside the capital.

Olympic Stadium (G)

A report released today by the government says that boost comes from businesses securing contract wins, additional sales and new foreign investment in the last year.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “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.”

London's streets lay quiet as visitors turn to shopping centre of Westfield next to the Olympic Park (G)

Olympic effect

London Mayor Boris Johnson added: “We proved the Olympo-sceptics in error when they declared that London couldn’t lay on a world class Games.

“We are now set to defy the doom-mongers when it comes to securing a permanent legacy. London is succeeding where virtually no other host city has, on track to secure a solid gold payback on the taxpayers’ outlay and a rosy future for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

“Since last summer, the capital has seen a surge in overseas investment totalling billions from Croydon to Battersea to the Royal Albert Docks, as well as seeing an extraordinary transformation of east London.

“This is delivering tens of thousands of jobs not only in London but spurring growth across the UK and helping the country sprint ahead in the global race for business.”

Out in the regions, we found that the effect of the Olympics and Paralympics really didn’t materialise. Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry

However some small businesses have said the Olympics and Paralympics effect “didn’t materialise” in the regions.

The national policy chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike 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.

“A lot of work went into it at the very beginning, when it was all announced. But although some businesses certainly got some really good contracts, for the vast majority it just didn’t happen.”

UK trade

But Business Secretary Vince Cable says the Olympics “created a multi-billion pound business springboard to take British expertise to the world.”

He said: “There is no doubt that the London 2012 Games proved a success story for British business. UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) is working hard to make the most of this significant opportunity.

“UKTI has embraced the challenge of delivering £11bn of economic benefit from the Olympics.

“Reaching £9.9bn in the space of one year is an amazing achievement. I hope that companies of all sizes up and down the country follow suit and use the positive impact generated by the Games to reach out to new markets and grow their businesses.”