Britain’s royal household needs to get a little more entrepreneurial, consider possible staff cuts and reduce expenditure, lawmakers say in a new parliamentary report. The Queen’s finances are far from healthy; the royal reserve fund for emergencies is down to its last million pounds ($1.6 million), while 39% of the royal estate remains in poor shape.
The report pointed out that because of overspending – mostly related to celebrations for the diamond jubilee - the royal Reserve Fund had shrunk from 3.3 million pounds to 1 million pounds in 2012-2013. This marks a historic low that raised fears "it could be unable to cover its expenditure on any unforeseen events".
The Queen’s household overspent her annual budget of $51 million by about $3.8 million last year. The imprudent courtiers were advised to take money-saving tips from the Treasury, the government’s finance ministry.
Lawmakers crucially warn the Royal Household to spend wisely and efficiently and do more to increase revenue so that it remains sustainable in the long run.
Do More With Less
Legislators on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee urged royal officials to adopt a more commercial approach and a series of measures to make more profits and cut down costs:
- Increase Buckingham Palace’s Visitors
The committee suggested opening up Buckingham Palace to visitors more often. In 2012-13, for instance, Buckingham Palace was open to visitors a total of 78 days, receiving over half a million visitors. The parliamentary report suggests more revenue could be generated if the Palace was open more each year.
“Other historic buildings, for example, the Palace of Westminster, are open to visitors for longer periods through the year than Buckingham Palace, despite Parliamentary activities taking place at the Palace of Westminster at the same time,” the report claims.
- Reduce Staff
Staff numbers have held stable at around 430 since 2007 to enable the household maintain the same level of activity for the Queen's program despite massive job cuts across the UK public sector and thousands of civil service layoffs since 2010.
- Replace the Ancient Palace Boiler
The boiler in Buckingham is reported to be 60 years old. The committee chair Margaret Hodge told the BBC that "the household must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to address its maintenance backlog".
The Sovereign Grant
Meanwhile, the sovereign grant, given by the government to cover the cost of the upkeep of royal residences and the Queen’s official public duties, was £31m. This grant represents 15% of the net surplus income of the Crown Estate, land holdings that generate money for the Treasury.
The Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “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. This has resulted in a more efficient use of public funds”.
All in all, Queen Elizabeth’s courtiers are urged to tighten the royal belt as Her Majesty’s reserve cash fund sinks significantly to a point which could threaten the viability of the Queen’s Household. It’s time the Royals refrained from spending rampantly and start thinking more like entrepreneurs, making the most out of innovative strategies to efficiently run the Royal Household.