Is this fair to SME's who are being asked, if not forced, to put their hands in their pockets to help fund what is arguably an over elaborate and increasingly expensive event? Local business now expects to receive a very poor return from their compulsory investment in the games and recent history suggests that it is mainly the global players that stand to benefit.
The growing problem of small business being sidelined and effectively excluded from the economic activity created has received increasing media attention of late. However there still appears to be no solution forthcoming. At the moment we are getting nothing back in return for the monies paid out in inflated business rates, property tax and other stealth measures.
As director of VFM Procurement, a leading London based property and construction consultancy, I have recently taken time to write to a number of public figureheads to clarify what is being done to help. In the current climate we need all the help we can get to improve our chances of sharing in this workload. After a period of nearly a month I still await a reply from all those contacted and will update readers in a future article.
It is a sad reality that we are not alone in our frustration and disappointment and it is no secret that many others are reporting similar experiences. A fact which was re-affirmed at a seminar I attended last week. Out of a total of around seventy eager business owners, only two were able to confirm having secured any public sector work through the government backed 'compete for' arrangements. It is not believed that either of these commissions related specifically to the Olympics however this success - or lack of it - ratio must be regarded as very poor.
The course was delivered by PERA, the Innovation Network, in conjunction with 'Supply London' which I now understand to be a support programme designed to help London SME's bid for and win public sector contracts. This group is supported by the London Development Agency and interestingly the project is part funded by the European Union (ERDF).
Despite our property and lease management consultancy being registered on various web sites including 'compete for' which is specifically designed to promote the involvement of SME's in the public sector, we have received no employment opportunities from the Olympics development scheme.
Whilst the efforts made by these groups are no doubt well intentioned, the results remain unsatisfactory. There was a general consensus in the seminar that the 'compete for ' site and application process was deemed a waste of time by most attendees. Indeed if this arrangement was designed to help deliver the promise made by the Olympics Delivery Authority - that the games will provide employment for local companies and local people, I am left in little doubt that this promise is likely to be broken.
At present, only around 20% of workers on the Olympic sites are from one of the five host boroughs - which include Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Newham and Greenwich - and only 53% of these are Londoners. If only one in five employees live locally it is difficult to see this as acceptable. Unless there is some radical change it is clear that the legacy of the 2012 Olympics will not be met and despite the best efforts of small businesses it is almost certain that the majority will remain bitterly disappointed and out of pocket.
We can only hope that the failure of the ODA to deliver opportunities that are fair to everyone will be given the urgent attention it deserves - and before it is too late. As director of a London based property and construction consultancy offering quantity surveying services the current arrangements have been very disappointing.
We should all be able to take part in this event - not just the global few. After all it is each of us citizens who are being asked to continue making sacrifices and to suffer financial hardship in order to bring the games to our City.