04:40AM, Tuesday 28 January 2014
Royal finances must be better managed and a 'firmer grip' gained on the maintenance of historic buildings like Windsor Castle, MPs have concluded.
Spending by the Queen's household has been scrutinised by the Government's Public Accounts Committee, which stressed more needs to be done to safeguard heritage properties such as the castle and the nearby Victoria and Albert Mausoleum.
An assessment in March 2012 revealed 39 per cent of the royal estate fell below what the household deemed to be an acceptable condition, and the committee has been told the current position is 'likely to be worse'.
Its report on the Sovereign Grant, which supports the Queen's official duties programme, called for further action on increasing royal income and reducing costs.
Committee chairman Margaret Hodge MP said: "We feel that the Queen has not been served well by the household and by the Treasury, which is responsible for effective scrutiny of the household's financial planning and management.
"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."
The committee has made a number of recommendations, including that the household 'must get a much firmer grip' on addressing its maintenance backlog, and must work to generate more income and further reduce its costs.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the move to the Grant has created a 'more transparent and scrutinised system' which has resulted in more efficient use of public funds.
He explained the Household has successfully worked to generate more income to supplement its Government funding, collecting £11.6 million in 2012/13 compared to £6.7 million in 2007/8.
The spokesman added: "A significant financial priority for the Royal Household is to reduce the backlog in essential maintenance across the Occupied Royal Palaces.
The Sovereign Grant Act was introduced in April 2012 and includes support for staffing and maintaining royal palaces.
The report was published today.
Read more in Friday's Express.
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