Olympic volunteering legacy might 'fizzle out', warn MPs

Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Labour's Margaret Hodge, says strong government leadership is needed to protect Olympic gains

Games Makers
Games Makers

The Olympic volunteering legacy is in danger of "fizzling out", the Public Accounts Committee has warned.

In a statement included with the committee’s report on its review of the Olympic and Paralympic games, published today, Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee and Labour MP for Barking, says both games were an extraordinary success.

But she calls on the Cabinet Office to display "strong leadership" to ensure that a volunteering legacy is achieved.

"The volunteers at the games did a fantastic job," says Hodge. "We need to capitalise on that success, but there is a danger of the volunteering legacy fizzling out. The Cabinet Office must demonstrate that it is not missing the boat so that there is a lasting volunteering legacy both within sport and beyond."

The report says that although the Cabinet Office had set up the Join In Trust to encourage volunteering among former Games Makers, there was "no clear plan for capitalising on the contribution Games Makers can make to other volunteering initiatives".

Hodge says it is not clear whether the National Lottery, which contributed millions of pounds from lottery sources to help pay for the infrastructure of the games, is having its interests protected. She says that some of the money, which would otherwise have gone to good causes, should be paid back.

"Lottery good causes lost money during the period running up to the games," she says. "They need to be assured that they will get some of this back from the financial returns secured from the development of the Olympic Park.

"The lottery provided more than £2bn towards the costs of the games, but has little influence over decisions by the London Legacy Development Corporation about the timing and value of sales over the next two decades. It is not clear that their interest is being adequately promoted and protected."

Joe Irvin, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said: "One thing that the Olympics and the Games Makers taught us was that volunteering flourishes when it is properly supported, and Margaret Hodge is right to suggest that it might fizzle out without this support. This is why returning the £425m taken from the Big Lottery fund to support the Olympics is so important to securing the Olympic legacy."

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the government was "absolutely committed to providing strong leadership and ensuring that the ambitious legacy targets are met".

He added: "After the London Olympics and Paralympics, we launched Join In, which provides people across the UK with a unique opportunity to volunteer and participate in local sport. We have also awarded the 2012-inspired Community Games support through the Social Action Fund, a programme to encourage community and sporting activities across the country."

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