The National Audit Office reported today that the Royal Household has improved value for money by tightening up the way it plans and manages its maintenance of the Occupied Royal Palaces. Without an agreed way of measuring the condition of the estate, however, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport cannot show how far the Palaces are being maintained in line with its objectives.
In 2007-08, the Property Section of the Royal Household received £15 million from public funds to run and maintain the Occupied Royal Palaces, broadly the same level of funding as in 2000-01, which is a reduction of 19 per cent in real terms.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the Estate, but does not currently have a clear basis for assessing the extent to which its aim of maintaining the Palaces to a standard consistent with their royal, architectural and historic status is being achieved. The Property Section has identified a backlog of maintenance work, but there is not yet an agreement between the parties about how the backlog should be measured or how to manage it.
The Property Section has recently strengthened its approach to planning maintenance work and has put in place the key elements of a sound maintenance strategy.
In addition to public funding, in 2007-08 the Property Section generated almost £3 million from visitors to Windsor Castle and from renting out accommodation on the estate. Since 2000-01, it has more than doubled the number of properties available to let from 16 to 36. The Royal Household’s approach to generating income could be strengthened by developing a formal Estate strategy.