The Queen’s finances have come under scrutiny. She has “just £1 million left in reserve” while the palaces are in dire need of repair. I’m not sure how best to cover this, so I’m going to post the entire articles from the Telegraph below (sorry in advance for the longness of the post). They give an overview of the situation, but here is the official report if you’d like to read it.
Queen down to her last million due to courtiers’ overspending, report finds
Report by the Commons public accounts committee finds the Queen’s advisers are failing to control her finances while the royal palaces are “crumbling”.
The Queen’s household finances were at a “historic low” with just £1 million left in reserve, MPs said on Monday. Her courtiers were advised to take money-saving tips from the Treasury.
A report by the Commons public accounts committee found that the Queen’s advisers were failing to control her finances while the royal palaces were “crumbling”.
MPs said her advisers had overspent to such an extent that her reserve fund had fallen from £35 million in 2001 to just £1 million today.
The Royal household had made efficiency savings of just 5 per cent over the past five years compared with government departments, that are cutting their budgets by up to a third.
MPs on the committee said the Treasury must “get a grip” and help to protect the royal palaces from “further damage and deterioration”.
Margaret Hodge, the Labour chairman of the committee, said: “We believe that 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.”
Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are reported to be in urgent need of repair. Staff must catch rain in buckets to protect art and antiquities, while the Queen’s old boilers were contributing to bills of £774,000 a year.
Mrs Hodge said: “The household must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to address its maintenance backlog. It has not even costed the repair works needed to bring the estate back to an acceptable condition. Again, the Treasury has an oversight role here.”
In April 2012 the Sovereign Grant replaced the old way of funding the Royal family through the Civil List and various Government grants.
The Sovereign Grant represents 15 per cent of the net surplus income of the Crown Estate, land holdings that generate money for the Treasury.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the sovereign grant had made the Queen’s funding “more transparent and scrutinised” and was resulting in a “more efficient use of public funds”.
He said that repairing the royal palaces was a “significant financial priority”, and that the Royal household had almost doubled its income to £11.6 million since 2007.
The spokesman said: “The move to the Sovereign Grant has created a more transparent and scrutinised system, which enables the Royal household to allocate funding according to priorities. This has resulted in a more efficient use of public funds.”
A Treasury spokesman said: “The new arrangements established by the Sovereign Grant Act have made the royal finances more transparent than ever while providing the long term stability necessary for good planning.”
Queen’s advisers wasting money while royal palaces are ‘crumbling’
The Queen is down to her last £1million and her palaces are ‘crumbling’ as she is failed by her advisers, MPs say.
The Queen is being failed by her advisers who are spending too much money and not doing enough to save her “deteriorating” palaces, MPs have warned.
More than a third of the royal estate has been found to be below “target condition”, with Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle in urgent need of repair.
Staff have been forced to resort to catching rain in buckets to protect art and antiquities, while the Queen’s “antiquated” boilers are more than 60 years old.
The report found that last year the Royal Household has overspent to such an extent that it now has just £1million left in its reserve fund, the lowest level in its history.
The committee criticised the Household for failing to make more savings and also said it should be making more money.
The MPs compared the success of the Tower of London, which has more than 2million visitors a year, to Buckingham Palace, which has 500,000 visitors a year.
Margaret Hodge, the Labour chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “The Queen has not been served well by the Household and by the Treasury.
“We got the impression that they just haven’t tried to make greater savings. Here we are, we’re all in it together, but they are failing to eek better value for the Queen. They are dipping into their reserves in a way that just isn’t sensible.
“If you look at the Tower of London and its visitor numbers it makes you think that there’s potential there. Have they done their darndest to maximise value for money.”
The report found that 39 per cent of the royal estate is in need of repair, but the Royal Household has failed to make an estimate of how much it would cost.
The Victoria and Albert Mausoleum in Windsor has been desperate need of repair for more than 18 years and is “getting worse”. However, the Royal Household says it has no plans to carry out more repair work because of “resource constraints”.
At Buckingham Palace, the heating system is more than 60 years old which has contributed to energy bills of £774,000 a year.
The household has also spent more than £800,000 in removing asbestos from the walls of the palace, while the wiring has not been replaced since 1949. The lead roofs at Windsor Castle are also in urgent need of replacement.
The royal household has not even attempted to estimate the cost of the maintenance backlog because it believes there was no point in doing so until it has new funding in place.
The report also found that the royal household has made efficiency savings of just 5 per cent since 2007 at a time when many government departments have saved significantly more.
Last year the royal household’s net expenditure was £33.3million, while it received £31million from the Sovereign Grant.
The household had to make up the difference by dipping into its reserve fund, which now stands at just £1million compared to £35million in 2001.
The report found that the Treasury, which is responsible for overseeing the royal household’s finances, is failing to do enough and should draw on its experience to “offer advice on key challenges”.
The royal household has now pledged to introduce a 10 year maintenance plan to help address the backlog it is facing. It has also pledged to increase the size of the reserve fund.
I’m not an expert on the Queen’s finances, but there is no way the Queen is down to her last £1 million as is being claimed, because she has other funds that they did not talk about. I’m sure she has other bank accounts than just the “reserve” one they’re referring to, but even if she doesn’t, she has a ton of wealth tied up in land, jewelry and art—and that’s personal holdings, not including the Crown land, jewelry and art holdings. If the situation were really that dire then she could sell some of that and be fine.
They do have a point, though. If they opened Buckingham Palace to the public for more than two months a year they would rake in a lot more money than they currently do.
Now, the part about the palace repairs and how the Queen should be expected to pay for that herself… um, aren’t most of the palaces—and specifically the ones referred to in the articles, BP and Windsor—property of the state, and the Queen is merely the current caretaker/resident? Shouldn’t the state have to pay for repairs of property they own? Would POTUS be expected to pay for White House repairs out of pocket? I don’t know. I don’t want to state a formal opinion because I don’t know enough about the situation.
But if they are running low on funds, then they should take a look at spending and try to cut costs (it was reported earlier that the Queen’s, Charles’, and Will, Kate and Harry’s press offices were being combined, maybe that is an attempt to cut costs?), and they should figure out a way to make more money off of the palaces to fix them. Tourism is an excellent way to make the palaces make money.
Also, if they allowed in more tourists, not only would the tourists pay to access the palaces, the palaces could place a collection jar in the lobby for repairs. I read a comment from someone who visited the Tower of London and said they noticed a collection jar for repairs. Of course that commentator was annoyed that they dare ask for repair money, but asking for repairs is fine, every other museum does that, no big deal. If they wanted to, they could do that for BP. I don’t know.
You know what’s interesting, though. After these reports came out, the press offices announced Kate’s first royal appearance of 2014. She will be attending a gala for the National Portrait Gallery on February 11th. 1) Of course it’s a gala where she gets to dress all fancy instead of doing any actual charity work; and it’s not even a gala for a charity, it’s for a museum that is already a well known tourist attraction. 2) How interesting that they released this information right after the release of the report criticizing the royal finances; they need to distract from the bad press by throwing Kate Middleton and her weave at us. You know how I said that most people value youth and find the younger royal generation more interesting (in a post about a certain not-well-liked royal’s comments that I didn’t find offensive, where I apparently ruffled some feathers)… well this is a prime example of that. Or at least a prime example of the Palace’s PR agreeing with me. They want to distract from something that makes them look bad, so they throw out the pretty, young royal who gets the most attention—Kate Middleton. Kate Middleton will distract because she gets more attention in general and people will talk about her clothes and whatnot instead of talking about the lack-luster royal finances and the “crumbling” palaces. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we got new pap shots of Kate shopping or something. Or if they really wanted to distract the public they’d release new pics of Prince George.