4.30pm update: The Government has now assured the Conservatives that this will be the last raid on National Lottery funds. This had been a demand of Jeremy Hunt and will be a relief to all good causes hoping for better luck with their future applications. This victory for the Conservatives may mean the Conservatives will now abstain when the issue comes to a vote. Over at CentreRight.com Dan Lewis has authored a good post on why Olympics and other public sector projects over-run their budgets: "There is no competitive pressure to reduce costs and improve service for those quangos distributing the funds. If Camelot fails, it loses its license. When did a quango last get sacked for being cost-ineffective?" More here.
Today’s Times reports that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will – for the first time – vote against Labour’s Olympics spending plans. Labour is planning another raid on National Lottery funds for good causes because of further cost over-runs and have been unable to assure the Opposition that this will be the last such raid.
"We have been rocksolid in our support of the Olympics. Hugh Robertson, our Shadow Sports Minister, was actually in Singapore with the bid team when we won it and Michael Howard made a speech to the IOC pledging the support of a future Conservative government. However where the Olympic consensus has been most tested is the utterly incompetent way the government has handled the finances, not simply tripling the budget last March, but financing its miscalculations by raids on lottery good causes including – crazily – the budget for grassroots sport which was held up as how we would provide a sporting legacy from the Olympics.
As a result of this afternoon’s Statutory Instrument, which we will vote against, the grassroots sport budget will be cut by over £100,000 for every parliamentary constituency, enough to fund a 100m grass sports pitch or a floodlit multi-use games area for each one."
For all the background on the rising costs of the Olympics, the failure to introduce adequate competition for key 2012 contracts, Ken Livingstone’s role in the sorry affair and the souring of public opinion we recommend The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s 2012 Watchdog blog.