Queen faces funding shake-up after British austerity budget

22nd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Queen Elizabeth II faces a major shake-up in the way her household is funded, finance minister George Osborne announced in his emergency budget Tuesday.

At the moment, the royal household receives 7.9 million pounds (9.5 million euros, 11.6 million dollars) a year from taxpayers to allow the monarch to carry out her duties as head of state and head of the Commonwealth.

Nearly three-quarters of the cash goes on staff salaries, while the rest goes on expenditure such as official garden parties and receptions.

The payment has been frozen at 7.9 million pounds for the last 20 years and will remain frozen for the coming year, Osborne said in a budget which contained the toughest cuts for decades.

But he also said that the current system, known as the civil list, would be overhauled in future.

"I can announce that with the full agreement of the queen, the civil list will remain frozen at 7.9 million pounds for the coming year and I will propose a new means of consolidated support for her majesty for the future at a later date," Osborne told lawmakers.

Royal officials have agreed that, in future, spending by the royal household will be subject to the same audit scrutiny as other government expenditure, he added.

"I believe this will mean clear accountability... and it will strengthen public confidence," Osborne said.

Last month, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that royal officials had asked for a funding increase, saying expenditure was currently running at about seven million pounds higher than the allowance.

This overrun was being met by an emergency reserve which was due to run out in 2012, the paper said.

But Buckingham Palace welcomed Osborne's announcements, saying the decision to freeze the amount this year was "mutual" and that the new funding system was still to be discussed.

A spokeswoman said: "This will allow us to manage the whole fund more effectively".

© 2010 AFP

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