Have the Olympics had an impact on the UK economy?

The impact of the Olympics on the economy may have been over-stated, according to research by &Meetings parent company Business Environment, a serviced office specialist that provides facilities for more than 500 firms.

Conducted on the eve of the Games, Business Environment’s study of companies in the south of the country found that just a tenth (10.7 per cent) of firms have seen an increase in business as a result of the event. A majority of firms (65 per cent) believed that the Olympics would have no effect on their business at all, even during the course of the event itself.

David Saul, Managing Director of Business Environment, said: “While the Olympics are likely to be an inspiring sporting spectacle, and at the very least a great diversion for a country in recession and struggling through the wettest summer in years, they are not having the effect on business that many had predicted. On an anecdotal level, our company provides office space for more than 500 people, yet I have barely met anyone who has a new contract as a result of the Games, or expects a surge in business as a result of the Games. The impression, true or not, is that contracts have been awarded to very large companies, for whom this is simply one more event in the season.

“Sadly, this chimes with reports that the unemployment rate in Newham has remained relatively stable, despite the enormous festival occurring on the borough’s doorstep. The message is that while the games are likely to be amazing, the trickle-down effect is negligible.”

One area in which the Games are expected to affect people is transport: almost three-quarters (69 per cent) envisage disruptions during the course of the competition. However, less than a third (30.9 per cent) have put plans in place to reduce the disruption caused by the competition.

The research suggests that any positive effect from the Olympic Games will be limited to London. Businesses in the capital are more likely to have seen an increase in business as a result of the Games (13 per cent, compared to eight per cent in the South West and four per cent in the South East) and are more than twice as likely to think that the Olympics will have a positive effect on their business (twenty-five per cent in London compared to eight per cent in the South West and sixteen per cent in the South East).

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