How to spend it like the Queen? Try a £1m asbestos bill
Accounts show Royal family cost us more last year – led by vast repair bill for Buckingham Palace
Following stints with Reuters and the Press Association, Martin Hickman joined The Independent as a news editor in 2001. He became the Consumer Affairs Correspondent in September 2005 and has run the paper's trenchant campaigns on packaging, bank charges and factory-farmed chicken. He writes on subjects as diverse as food, finance, energy and fashion. With Tom Watson, he is author of a new book on the phone hacking scandal, Dial M for Murdoch - News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain.
Tuesday 03 July 2012
The Queen is facing a multi-million pound bill for removing potentially deadly asbestos from Buckingham Palace. Almost £1m of public money has already been spent stripping asbestos from electrical cabling ducts under flooring in the south wing of the 19th-century building, royal accounts revealed yesterday.
Further work to remove the building material from other parts of the palace will take place over 20 years, with the total bill for ensuring the Royals and courtiers avoid developing mesothelioma – a malignant lung cancer caused by inhaling asbestos – coming to several millions of pounds.
A rolling programme has begun to update electrical cabling at the palace laid in the late-1940s. Hidden within last year's accounts was the warning that replacing existing heating and electrical pipes at Buckingham Palace "with associated asbestos removal will now take 15-20 years to complete".
The latest accounts – which showed that taxpayer funding for the Queen rose slightly by 0.6 per cent, or £200,000, to £32.3m in the year to April – revealed that tearing out asbestos from under lino in the south wing cost £800,000.
The accounts noted: "The mechanical and electrical services at Buckingham Palace were largely installed in 1949 and are in need of replacement. The mains are distributed around the palace from central plant rooms in ducts that run under the basement floor of three of the four wings. This... comprises the removal of the cover of each duct, clearance of asbestos contamination…"
A spokesman for the Royal Household said "extensive records" were kept to ensure that maintenance workers were safe from asbestos when carrying out repairs.
The Royal Family has a backlog of essential building work, including repairs to crumbling roof masonry. Last year £9.7m of government grant-in-aid was pumped into renovating Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St James's Palace and other buildings, up from £7.8m the previous year.
Public funding for royal travel rose by £100,000 to £6.1m, which covered the chartering of planes and helicopters. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall's travel bill was the highest, costing at least £810,000, followed by the Duke of York on £378,249.
Despite the rise, the Queen's spending has dropped since 2009, allowing Buckingham Palace to point to her frugalness. The savings have allowed the Queen to channel £3m into reserves – which she will use to pay for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: "When the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced his plans for the public expenditure to reduce by 25 per cent in real terms over a four-year period, the Queen was very keen that the Royal Household should play its part in reducing its expenditure accordingly."
Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Any terrorist seizure of the plane ‘would have required one hell of a piece of planning’
Croatia's second city to close 'worst zoo in the world' after reports of 'nightmare' conditions and 'depressed' animals
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
- 3 Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...