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Games bill rises £70m as experts cast doubt on benefits

The cost of hosting the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 has topped half a billion pounds.

The price tag is now £523 million, according to the team behind the event -- a £70m rise since November.

Officials put the increase down to ­inflation forecasts, but experts question the scale of the rise.

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The new cost is revealed as an academic report unveiled today dismisses claims about the health and economic benefits of multi-sport events such as 2014 or the London 2012 Olympics.

Some 54 studies were analysed, and little evidence was found that major multi-sports events delivered health or socioeconomic benefits.

The new price tag for the Games comes just six months after it was confirmed that the cost of 2014 had risen by almost 25%, from the original bid estimate of £373m to £453m.

The hike then was blamed on rising broadcasting and legislative costs, with the Government, Glasgow City Council and the organising committee shoring up the shortfall.

After the latest revised figure was revealed, Professor Brian Ashcroft, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University, said it was a matter of concern that inflation was only being factored in now, and that he suspected that the real cost of the Games was rising.

He said: “I would have thought that they would have factored inflation costs at the outset and I find it rather strange that that appears not have to been done.”

Jeanette Findlay, an economics lecturer at Glasgow University, also cast doubt on whether inflation would rise in the coming years at the level set out in the cost projections.

However, the Scottish Government and Glasgow 2014 Ltd insisted the new figure was no more than the inclusion of the impact of inflation and did not change the overall costing, promising that “the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games remain on course to be delivered within the agreed budget”.

Meanwhile, a study questioning whether events like the Commonwealth Games and Olympics actually do help local people is revealed by a group of health professionals and academics, headed up by Dr Gerry McCartney, a specialist in public health from Glasgow.

The report, published today in the British Medical Journal, costs the London Olympics at £150 per head of the UK population but concludes “there is not sufficient evidence to confirm or refute expectations about the health or socioeconomic benefits of previous major multi-sport events”, and that “£150-a-head towards ­staging ­London 2012 is a poor investment by the Treasury on our behalf”.

The new annual business plan for the 2014 organisers, launched yesterday, states that the year ahead “presents many significant opportunities and challenges”, which would leave them even more open to scrutiny.

The minister for public health and sport, Shona Robison, said: “The impact of inflation over the next five years does not change the Games budget nor the determination of all those involved to work within that budget.

“The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games must be a catalyst for significant change which will generate enormous sporting, social and economic benefits, not just for Glasgow but the whole of Scotland.”

Games chief executive John Scott added: “The last 18 months have seen the most significant change to the economy in more than 70 years. We now face the challenge of delivering the Commonwealth Games that our Games partners expect during a period of slow recovery from a major economic downturn, with pressure on all public sector and commercial funding budgets.”

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