Is UKs Queen Elizabeth II, one of the worlds richest women, really down to her last million in savings?
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Jan 30 00:58:05 GMT 2014
Queen down and out? UK royal palaces crumbling
and leaky as her finances dwindle
Published time: January 28, 2014 16:04
Britains Queen Elizabeth II, long thought to be
one of the worlds richest women, is apparently
down to her last million in savings, with palaces
leaking and falling to pieces as MPs say she has
been failed by her advisers and the Treasury.
The Queens courtiers have been advised to take
money saving tips from the UK treasury, as her
finances dip to an historic low with just £1
million left in reserve, the Telegraph reported.
A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee
found that her reserve fund had fallen from £35
million in 2001 to £1 million today. While the
Royal household had made efficiency savings of
just 5 percent over the past five years,
government departments have made savings of up to a third.
MPs on the committee said that the Treasury must
help to protect royal palaces from further damage and deterioration.
We believe that the Treasury has a duty to be
actively involved in reviewing the households
financial planning and management and it has
failed to do so, said Margaret Hodge, the Labour chairperson of the committee.
Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are both in
a terrible state of repair with staff required to
catch rain in buckets to protect art and antiquities.
Meanwhile, in Buckingham Palace the 60-year-old
boilers were running up bills of £774,000 a year
and the wiring has not been replaced since 1949.
More than a third of the royal estate has been
found to be below target condition.
The committee compared Buckingham Palace, which
has just 500,000 visitors a year, to the Tower of
London, which has more than £2 million.
If you look at the Tower of London and its
visitor numbers it makes you think that theres
potential here. Have they done their darnedest to
maximize value for money? Hodge said.
The report also found that the royal household
has not even attempted to cost up its huge
backlog of repairs because it believed there was
no point in doing so until it has new funding in place.
The Crown Estate gets 15 percent of its income
from the Sovereign Grant, which replaced the old
way of funding the Royal Family through the civil list in 2012.
While the Royal Households net expenditure was
£33.3 million last year, £31 million of this came
from the Sovereign Grant. To find the difference,
it had to dip into its reserve fund.
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace insisted that
the Sovereign Grant had made the Queens funding
more transparent and scrutinized and was
resulting in a more efficient use of public funds.
But the committee found that much more needs to
be done if the Crown Estate and the Royal
Household are to properly manage the Queens finances.
We got the impression that they just havent
tried to make greater savings. Here we are, were
all in it together, but they are failing to eke
out better value for the Queen. They are dipping
into their reserves in a way that just isnt sensible, Hodge said.
The report found that the Treasury was not doing
its job properly. It is responsible for
overseeing the Royal Household finances but is
not doing enough and should draw on its extensive
experience and offer advice on key packages.
The Household needs to get better at planning
and managing its budgets for the longer term
and the Treasury should be more actively involved
in reviewing what the household is doing, Hodge said.
A closer look at both the report and the figures
in it reveals that the Queens finances may be
healthier than the Committee found, and in areas
where she has lost money it is not the fault of
the Treasury but of her managers, the Guardian reports.
The report its self was compiled from a series of
questions and answers with just two witness
giving the answers, Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the
Privy Purse and Mike Stevens, Deputy Treasurer to the Queen.
When asked why they did not cut back their
expenditure, Sir Alan Reid replies: We really
believed that it is not wise to cut back on the
level of activity of the monarchy.
The figure of 1 million pounds does not
accurately reflect the value of assets held by
the Royal Household, the Guardian says. Their
total reserves stand at 14.2 million pounds, 11.8
million pounds of which comes from property,
plant and other equipment.The biggest chunk of
royal spending goes on payroll, and although
staff numbers remained unchanged over the past
year cost have risen considerably.
Austin Mitchell, one of the members of the
committee, asked: It looks to me that you
managed to survive and manage the finances by
letting the buildings deteriorate, by freezing
the staff costs and by digging into the reserves.
Is that a fair summary of what has happened?
To which Sir Alan replied, I think that does
summarize, to a degree, what happened last year.
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