The way The Queen manages her household expenses has been slammed by a committee of MPs after they heard she is spending more than the State pays her and is down to her last million in the bank.
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After scrutinising The Queen’s household accounts for the sovereign grant, the Parliamentary committee of public accounts pinpointed three holes in the way she looks after her cash.
- The Queen’s Household spent £33.3 million but only received £31 million as a grant in 2012-13. The shortfall was plugged by drawing from a £3.3 million reserve, leaving just £1 million in the bank.
- The Queen is poorly looking after state-owned properties that she has a duty to maintain. Around 40% of properties in the royal estate need attention, with some in a dangerous condition.
- The household could generate more income from better managing the estate – although income has increased 16% to £11.6 million, only 5% of the rise has come from cost-cutting, leaving more room for action
Failing to cut costs
The grant replaced the Civil List and other grants in 2012. The state pays the grant to The Queen to pay for official duties by covering staffing costs, the maintenance of royal palaces and the expense of royal travel.
Committee chair Margaret Hodge MP said: “The grant is provides resources for the household to support The Queen’s programme of official duties. This move has strengthened accountability and scrutiny of the Royal Household’s spending on The Queen’s official business.
“For instance, the household has no idea how much money is needed to repair and maintain buildings in an acceptable condition and has not carried out a survey to cost the work. The Treasury has not asked for an estimate either.
“However, we feel generally that neither the household nor the Treasury has served The Queen well. The Treasury has a duty to be actively involved in reviewing the household’s financial planning and management – and it has failed to do so.”
Palaces need repair
Hodge also explained that although the grant formula gave the household certainty over money available in future years, the system has no built-in review that looks for economies.
The committee has suggested several recommendations to improve the household’s money management:
- The Treasury needs to adopt a more hands-on approach to helping with household financial planning and management to help reduce costs and make better use of the grant
- The household needs to make cuts and keep spending under control in the same way government departments and public organisations have had to slash spending but maintain services
- Property maintenance issues should be tackled straight away with a rolling program of maintenance and repairs to restore substandard buildings
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