Businesses in the West Midlands fare better than many other regions in getting a slice of the Olympic pie – but London and the South-east have bagged the lion’s share of contracts in the run-up to 2012.
Of the £5 billion spent so far with frontline suppliers throughout England in preparation for the games, the West Midlands has won £411 million worth of contracts – eight per cent of the total – making it the fourth largest supplier out of the nine English regions.
But the geographical breakdown of contract winners is skewed strongly towards the capital and the South-east – with London itself taking 53 per cent of contracts and the South-east 16 per cent, according to figures obtained using the Freedom of Information Act from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), the body tasked with building the new venues and infrastructure for the games.
Some regions, such as the North-east and the South-west, take less than 0.2 per cent, and businesses in the North-west have won just under two per cent of the contracts.
But the ODA said the figures were not an accurate reflection of spend throughout the country as they only held information on “Tier One” suppliers and did not take into consideration companies who frontline suppliers had contracted work out to.
A spokeswoman for the ODA said: “These figures only reflect direct ODA contracts and do not include the wider supply chain which is spread across the UK.
“Businesses of all sizes and from every sector are already working together to deliver the largest project this country has seen for generations and are reaping the benefits of millions of pounds of work.
“Direct ODA contracts are the tip of the iceberg and there are hundreds of sub-contracts going to businesses through the UK-wide supply chains.
“For example Keller Ground Engineering from Coventry who have worked on the Olympic Stadium and RMD KwikForm of Walsall who have worked on the Aquatics Centre.”
Successful Tier One companies from the West Midlands include Wolverhampton-based Carillion, which is building the International Media Centre at the Olympic Park, and Glenn Howells Architects, which is designing a section of the Athletes’ Village.
Wolverhampton fencing business Zaun won the contract to provide the Olympic Park main perimeter fencing – up to 17km of the very high security fencing.
Jim Johnston, Advantage West Midlands’ business manager for the 2012 Games, said the region’s success in attracting contracts was down to the groundwork that went in when the games were first announced.
“As soon as London won the right to the games we realised that we had to get started,” he said.
“We had seen the experience of Sydney where the contracts spread hundreds of miles away so we decided to set about it.
“We worked with the businesses associations, the chambers and individual trade bodies to communicate the opportunities of the games.
“All we did was point out what’s on offer and then it was up to the businesses.
“I think West Midland companies have done a great job,” he said.
As well as local firms working on delivering the infrastructure for the games, Birmingham will host the Jamaican and US track and field teams – meaning Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, will train in the city. Birmingham City Council claims this will bring an estimated £15 million into the local economy.
But on the flip side of the coin, the West Midlands is also taking its fair share of the burden of paying for the Olympics.
Given that the vast majority of the benefit for the games will fall in London, through the Greater London Authority and its regional development agency, has to put 10 per cent of the £9.29 billion public sector bill in the pot.
But the remaining 90 per cent of the bill for the Games will be made up from central government funding from taxpayers everywhere, as well as national lottery money.
The national lottery’s role in paying for the Olympics has led to lottery-funded projects all over the country seeing their funding trimmed as money is diverted towards the games.
For example, the West Midlands’ regional screen agency Screen WM, which supports the film and media sector, lost 25 per cent of its lottery funding.
And the Arts Council has seen a diversion of its lottery funding to the Olympics totalling £112.5 million on a national scale between 2005-12.
The organisation said it was not possible to give a breakdown of how much its West Midlands’ budget had been reduced by as a result of the games, as its income from the lottery is constantly fluctuating.
But it pointed to its involvement in the Cultural Olympiad, a series of events to showcase the UK’s arts and culture to the rest of the world, which is staging events throughout the region.
2012 Business Opportunity Workshops coming up in the region include September 16 at University of Warwick and September 17 in Herefordshire. More details are available from local chambers of commerce
NUMBER CRUNCHING THE 2012 OLYMPICS:
* £9.35 billion is the total budget for the 2012 Olympics– nearly four times the original estimate of £2.4 billion.
* £5.3 billion will be spent on construction work. A £2.7 billion “contingency fund” was also set up.
* 1948 was the last time the Olympics were held in the UK. The games have been held here twice before, and always in London.
* £625 million is being contributed to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by Londoners. A total of £6 billion comes from the Government and £2.2 billion from the National Lottery.
* Four billion people are expected to watch the opening ceremony on July 27.
* 2.8 million workers will be needed to cope with construction demands in the run up to the games.
* £10 billion will be generated for the British economy as a result of the games, according to research from Lloyds TSB.
* £2.1 billion will be generated by tourism into the country while the games take place.
* 5,000 new homes will be build in East London as part of a massive upgrade in facilities.
* 1984 was the first year the Olympics turned a profit – £143 million.
* 9.6 million tickets will go on sale for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. A sell-out rate of 82 per cent for the Olympics and 63 per cent for the Paralympics is estimated.
* 68 per cent of British people wanted the Olympics in their country before the bid was successful.