Live updates

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."

Advertisement

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.

Tax authority 'seeks to collect all that is due'

HM Revenue and Customs has defended its recorded in the wake of a parliamentary report that has accused it of holding back on using sanctions against multinational companies, while pursuing small businesses and individuals.

Read: Tax authority 'fails to collect £35b' from big businesses

HMRC seeks to collect the tax that is due from all taxpayers, so that everyone pays their fair share in accordance with the tax laws passed by Parliament.

We have secured more than £50 billion of additional tax from our compliance work since 2010, including £23 billion from large businesses.

We have carried out 2,345 prosecutions for tax evasion in the last three years, including of high-profile accountants and lawyers, have halved the number of disclosed tax avoidance schemes and have protected more than £2.4 billion from marketed tax avoidance schemes this year alone.

– HMRC spokesman

Watch: Government 'not pursuing tax avoidance' with big firms

Advertisement

Tax authority 'fails to collect £35bn' from big businesses

The "tax gap" between the amount owed to the Exchequer and the amount actually collected grew by £1 billion to £35 billion in 2011/12, according to a new parliamentary report that accuses HM Revenue and Customs of being soft on big multinational firms.

HMRC holds back from using the full range of sanctions at its disposal. It pursues tax owed by the smaller businesses but seems to lose its nerve when it comes to mounting prosecutions against multinational corporations.

It predicted that it would collect £3.12 billion unpaid tax from UK holders of Swiss bank accounts... but in 2013-14 it has so far secured just £440 million.

We were astonished that HMRC could not give any reasons for such a shortfall.

– Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee

Read: Tax authorities 'hold back' on big firms, report finds

Tax authorities 'hold back' on big firms, report finds

HM Revenue and Customs seems to "lose its nerve" when faced with the prospect of taking legal action against global giants, while pursuing small businesses and individuals, according to a new parliamentary report.

Tax authorities have been holding back on using sanctions against multinational companies, according to a new parliamentary report. Credit: PA

HMRC has fallen short on the unpaid tax it hoped to extract from Swiss bank accounts - collecting just £440 million so far this financial year, rather than the £3.12 billion forecast after a bilateral agreement - said the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

Changes in "controlled foreign company" rules and the failure to close a loophole relating to Eurobonds have made it "easier for the companies to avoid tax while ordinary people continue to pay their share," said the committee's chairwoman Margaret Hodge.

Higher rate calls: departments 'don't monitor revenues'

Central government departments "do not have a clear idea" of how much their services benefit from higher rate numbers, according to a report by the National Audit Office.

Phone call
Callers to central government departments spent £56 million on calls last year. Credit: PA

Although none of the departments reviewed keeps revenue directly from higher rate lines, many of them receive deductions in the cost of other services instead.

But the report said departments don't monitor the revenues that the third party providers receive, despite guidance from the Cabinet Office.

The report said: "In some cases departments have foregone revenue without being able to demonstrate a corresponding benefit either to callers or departments themselves."

Premium government calls: how much do they cost?

Government services have been found to be using premium rate lines for most of the calls they receive, costing callers an estimated £56 million last year.

But how much are you likely to be charged for a phone call to a public service?

Almost two-thirds (63%) of calls are made to 0844/0845 numbers, known as higher rate numbers, which are generally not included in mobile phone packages.

  • 0844 numbers have an average cost per minute of 5.6p from landlines and 17.1p from mobiles.
  • 0845 numbers cost on average 4.2p per minute from landlines and 17.6p from mobiles.

A further 15% of calls to government services are made to so-called Freephone numbers, which start with the prefix 080. Again, these are also not usually included within 'free minutes'.

  • Freephone numbers are indeed free from landlines.
  • But from mobiles they cost an average of 16.2p per minute.
Load more updates

Advertisement

Today's top stories