27/06/2008

Queen's Expenses Twice The Rate Of Inflation - But More Needed

The Queen's spending has risen by twice the rate of inflation, in official figures released today.

The Royal household spent a total of £40 million in the year, up 6.1%.

A large proportion of the money was spent on travel with royal flights and car journeys costing £6.2m and the Queen's United States trip being the most expensive at £400,000.

The figures also reveal that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh took a helicopter to the Kentucky Derby at a cost of £22,000.

Prince Charles spent £210,000 chartering a yacht in the Caribbean and £65,000 on flights.

Royal Correspondent for Sky News says that trips abroad "are requested by the Foreign Office" and their purpose is to "improve the relationship between Britain and the other countries".

However, the Queen's Finance Chief, Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, has announced that £32 million is now "desperately needed" to stop royal residences falling apart.

Sir Reid said in a statement of the Monarch's finances: "The money provided by the taxpayer to enable The Queen to fulfil her role as Head of State, is equivalent to 66 pence per person in the country. This is the annual cost, not the daily, weekly or monthly cost and is 3.1% lower in real terms than it was in 2001.

"Expenditure on Royal Travel, which will vary from year to year, also increased in response to the number of overseas visits undertaken at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade & Investment.

"With no increase in funding for 12 years the backlog in essential maintenance projects has continued to grow.

"In the absence of any increase in funding the backlog of works is estimated at £32 million in today's money."

The maintenance fund has been frozen at £15 million since 1991.

Some finance experts have speculated that the freezing of the budget is down to the spiralling cost of the 2012 Olympics.

The monarchy now costs each taxpayer the equivalent of 66p a year, up from 62p last year.

Inflation is currently running at 3.3% which is above the Government's target of 2%.

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has warned of further rises. Consumers are already feeling the pinch as the cost of fuel continues to rise. Domestic fuel bills are predicted to soar by 40% by the end of the year.

The cost of living has also risen with supermarkets battling to provide the cheapest staple foods such as bread and milk.

(DS)

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