Queen's household told to do more to cut costs

The Queen's royal household could be doing more to reduce its costs and increase income, and needs to get a firmer grip on a backlog of property repairs, according to MPs on the public accounts committee.

Royal palaces 'cost an absolute fortune' to maintain

Robert Jobson
Robert Jobson said Buckingham Palace needed major renovation work. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

Royal palaces "cost an absolute fortune" to maintain so it is not surprising the Queen's household has spent as much as it has done, a royal expert told Daybreak.

Robert Jobson defended Her Majesty for not doing more to reduce costs as palaces were already crumbling due to lack of upkeep.

"Basically, these buildings cost an absolute fortune to maintain, [Buckingham] palace in particular is crumbling in certain areas, has not been rewired since the 50s, certain rooms are not even decorated. This is a national monument in my opinion."

He continued: "It could possibly be opened to the public but the truth is that there has been a cut in real terms and so they had to spend the money where they could."

Watch: Renting Buckingham Palace 'could make more money'

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Buckingham Palace: 'We are generating more money'

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 £11.6 million in comparison with £6.7 million 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. The need for property maintenance is continually assessed.

– Buckingham Palace spokesperson

Treasury 'failing to review royal financial management'

Margaret Hodge, the PAC's chairman, criticised the Treasury for failing to be more actively involved in reviewing the household's financial planning and management, including in the plans to maintain historical buildings.

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.

The PAC's report has failed to properly account for these changes."

No royal household cuts despite public sector austerity

 Royal Demi Chef De Partie in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace.
Royal Demi Chef De Partie in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The royal household's staffing levels have remained largely static at around 430 people, during the past seven years, to allow it to maintain the Queen's programme.

However this contrasted with the public sector which had seen employee numbers cut during the same period, and yet the sector was still expected to increase efficiency with fewer workers.

Queen's household told it could do more to cut costs

The Queen's household has been told it could do more to reduce costs.
The Queen's household has been told it could do more to reduce costs. Credit: Matt Crossick/Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

The Queen's royal household could do more to reduce its costs and increase income, and must get a firmer grip on a huge backlog of property repairs, a committee of MPs has said.

The household also needs to plan and manage its budget better for the long term, a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommended.

The report produced by the PAC looked at the Sovereign Grant, the financial system funding the monarchy, and last October its MPs questioned Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, about the financial affairs of the household.

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