Seven-figure sum ensures palaces remain risk free
The British taxpayer stumps up at least £2,200,000 to ensure health and safety in the Royal Household, it’s been estimated.
Figures extracted from latest reports on the Sovereign Grant which pays for the activities of the Queen, the Royal Family and the upkeep of their households, show that safety inspections and remedial work cost into the millions of pounds.
While most of the figure is spent on ensuring safety in a number of ageing palaces, castles and historic buildings, Protecting.co.uk, a leading British health and safety consultancy asks if the money is cash well spent.
“The taxpayer funds the Royal Family to the tune of £37.9 million, rising to £40 million next year,” said Protecting.co.uk’s spokesman Mark Hall, “and we’ve got a right to know if we’re getting value for money.”
In fact, the Sovereign Grant has risen above the rate of inflation since its introduction because of a backlog of maintenance to royal palaces, some of which are open to the public and could pose a risk to staff and visitors if left unaddressed.
- While the latest figures for Royal Health and Safety inspections are kept under wraps, inflation-linking to last available figures puts the sum of keeping the Royal Household a self-proclaimed world leader in health and safety at £1.3 million.
- Add this to the £900,000 paid to remove asbestos ducting and associated fees last year from Buckingham Palace, the cost of Royal health and safety for 2012-2013 is somewhere in the region of £2.2 million, Protecting.co.uk estimates.
“When you look at the size and the age of some of the buildings in the Royal Household, that figure isn’t surprising in the least,” says Hall, “Especially when you consider the amount of maintenance work that’s been missed in recent years which presents new dangers to staff.”
Protecting.co.uk notes that the Royal Household is also a significant employer, which means diverse places of work need to be regularly inspected and assessed for health and safety compliance.
“And that’s not something they can skimp on either,” says Hall, “One preventable accident and it’ll be all over the world’s press.
“It’s not just employees they need to protect – it’s also visiting dignitaries, paying visitors, even the tourists peering through the railings at Buckingham Palace. That’s a big responsibility.”
The Household’s own in-house team of Health and Safety experts keeps costs down, but they’d still need to consult with outside companies to ensure best practice. This is especially the case when it comes to specialist risks such as secure travel for family members, and removal of hazardous material such as asbestos.
“Using taxpayers’ money to finance the running of the Royal Households is an argument that’s raged for years between royalists and republicans,” says Protecting.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall, “and it’s one that will rage for many years to come.”
“But for any large employer with a – frankly – specialist property portfolio, that £2.2 million looks like exceedingly good value for money.”