We are not amused: MPs tell Queen to rein in her spending as she reaches final million

Royal Household must ‘do more with less’, say MPs after review of finances

In 1642 when Parliament tried to “regulate” the revenues of the monarchy under Charles I it led, a few months later, to the first battles of the English Civil War. Now, 372 years on, Margaret Hodge and the ever combative House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are attempting to have another go.

For the first time Parliament has today produced a report into the Royal finances, following a change in the law which gives MPs oversight of how the Queen spends her (and our) money.

And if Her Majesty thought she might get off lightly from the scourge of Google, Amazon and countless Government departments, she may need to think again.

The report castigates the Royal Household for being profligate at a time of constrained public spending and pointedly suggests that like the rest of Government, the Queen also has to do “more for less”.

It accuses the Royals of neglecting their palaces and displaying “complacency” about the extent of the problem. In conclusion it suggests the Queen is “not being served well by the Royal Household in balancing the books”, suggesting that even at 87, she needs to keep a closer eye on how her money is spent.

“The Household needs to get better at planning and managing its budgets for the longer term,” said Ms Hodge, the committee chair. “ With better commercial expertise in place, we think there is room to do more with less.”

The committee’s report comes in the wake of a change in the law in 2012 which consolidated the Civil List and Grants-in-Aid into a single Sovereign Grant which has to fund the Queen’s state functions and the upkeep of Royal palaces. The grant was £31m in 2013 and is set to rise to £36.1m this year and £37.9m in 2015. Ensuring the grant is spent wisely is overseen by the Nation Audit Office and PAC.

The Royal Household’s net expenditure of £33.3m was greater than the Sovereign Grant, so £2.3m had to be drawn from its £3.3m Reserve Fund, leaving a balance of only £1m at the end of the 2013 tax year. In its first report since the public grilling last year of the Queen’s Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Alan Reid, the PAC suggests that the Royals need to both cut their costs and increase their income. It points out that last year the Royal Household’s gas consumption rose by 14 per cent and the waste it generated by 9 per cent.

A table setting is shown during a press preview of the State dinner for Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband Prince Philip 07 May 2006 in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC.

It pointedly asks why Buckingham Palace cannot be open to the public for longer, potentially increasing revenues. “Other historic buildings – for example, the Palace of Westminster – are open to visitors for longer periods through the year,” it concludes. But it is the failure to tackle the backlog of remedial work that particularly draws the committee’s ire. It is concerned that work to repair the Victoria and Albert Mausoleum, a monument of national importance, had been outstanding for 14 years.

Last night the response of Buckingham Palace could best be described as unamused – but not yet summoning an army. “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,” said a spokeswoman.

“This has resulted in a more efficient use of public funds. The Royal Household was charged by Parliament in 2009 to generate more income to supplement the funding it receives. This has been done successfully. Work on income generation continues.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee