London Olympics exceed initial budget by £6.52bn

When is "under budget" not "under budget"?

BBC News, 1 February 2007:

How much will the Olympics really cost?

The overall budget for the London Olympics submitted in the bid to the International Olympic Committee was £2.4bn.

The figure came from a study carried out by construction company Arup in May 2002. It predicted the cost of the Games to be £1.8 billion.

The government then commissioned another report in 2004 carried out by accountants PriceWaterhouseCooper, who put the figure closer to £3.2bn. The government settled for a compromise figure of £2.4bn.

BBC News, 23 October 2012:

London 2012: Olympics and Paralympics £377m under budget

The cost of the London Olympics and Paralympics will be £377m less than expected, according to the Government.

The combined budget for the two events was £9.29bn, but the projected cost is £8.92bn.

Savings came from a drop in security, transport and construction expenses.

In other words, "Our £6.89bn overspend was actually just a £6.52bn overspend when all things are taken into account! Huzzah!"

The latest BBC News story doesn't even mention the original estimates at all, although an earlier news story - from July - at least featured Hugh Robinson evading the question: 

Addressing the original bid budget of £2.4bn, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said there was a "recognition right from the word go that figure would have to change dramatically on the basis of delivering the Games".

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.