UK & World News

  • 28 January 2014, 19:06

Royal Estate Overspend Leaves 50m Repair Bill

Financial mismanagement within the Royal household is putting the future of some of our finest buildings at risk, according to the parliamentary watchdog responsible for scrutinising Royal finances.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) believes over a third of the Royal estate, which includes both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, is in disrepair and has put the cost of fixing it at around 50m.

Margaret Hodge MP, who chairs the committee, told Sky News: "Forty per cent of it needs something doing to it.

"The boilers at Buckingham Palace haven't been replaced for 60 years.

"Windsor Castle has problems with the bedrooms and the Royal Picture Gallery has buckets to catch the water coming through."

It is the first time that Parliament has scrutinised the Sovereign Grant given to the Queen to support her public duties.

Since the Civil List was abolished in 2013, the Royal household has been given a percentage of revenue from the Crown Estate and is meant to be more accountable to the taxpayer.

But the committee has criticised the household for spending over its means.

According to the committee report, in 2012/13 it received 31m from the taxpayer, but spent 33.3m, raiding its reserves.

That has left a contingency of only 1m - a historic low - with no plan drawn up to pay for the backlog of repairs.

The report demands that the household "must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to address its maintenance backlog", adding "it has not even costed the repair work".

It also calls on the Palace to do more with less.

In a financial climate where many public institutions have had to make dramatic cuts the Royal household has only managed to reduce its expenditure by 5% in the last six years.

The committee believes there is scope to generate more income and reduce costs - possibly by opening Buckingham Palace to the public for more than just one month a year.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "The Royal household was charged by the PAC in 2009 to generate more income to supplement the funding it receives from Government.

"This has been done successfully. In 2012-13 the household generated 11.6m in comparison with 6.7m in 2007-8. Work on income generation continues.

"A significant financial priority for the Royal household is to reduce the backlog in essential maintenance across the occupied Royal palaces.

"Recent examples of work include the renewal of a lead roof over the royal library at Windsor and the removal of asbestos from the basement of Buckingham Palace."

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