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The royal finance stitch-up

10 July 2011

We're asking you to send an urgent email to your MP, calling on them to oppose plans to change royal funding arrangements.

Some background

The Crown Estate is a multi-million pound property portfolio that belongs to the nation; it has no real direct link to the royal family or the monarchy.  We believe the reason the new grant has been linked to the Crown Estate revenue is two-fold: it is seen as good PR, with the "Crown Estate" link implying that the money given to the royals is somehow owed to them; it gives the royals considerable freedom in spending the money they receive while also allowing the size of the grant to increase in line with rising property revenues rather than according to need. The government proposal means that:

  • All existing grants and the civil list will be scrapped in favour of a single ‘sovereign support grant’;
  • Some costs met directly by government departments will not be included in the grant and therefore will not show up in accounts of the total cost of the monarchy;
  • The cash value of the grant will be 15% of the revenue of the Crown Estate, there will be no upper cap but the value will never be allowed to fall.  To put this into context, the Crown Estate has just this week announced a bumper year, with 10% growth in revenue over the past twelve months.  The Financial Times has said that under this arrangement, "if the Crown Estates does well the Queen wins, if the Crown Estates does badly the taxpayer loses".
  • The arrangement will be reviewed only every seven years, any changes to the arrangement will be made by the prime minister, Chancellor and the Keeper of the Privy Purse.  In other words two ministers and the Queen’s representative will decide on future changes, not parliament.

Write today! Please write to your MP today or over the weekend, by visiting www.writetothem.com, and ask them to: "attend the Commons debate on the proposed new sovereign support grant" and –

  • Raise the question of why there is no upper limit or cap on the value of the grant;
  • Question why the proposal will ensure the value of the grant can never go down, only up;
  • Query why the grant is linked to the Crown Estate at all, as the company is national property and not the personal possession of the royal family;
  • Challenge the assumption that the current official cost of the monarchy, at around £35m a year, represents value for money and an acceptable level of spending – surely the total cost could be brought down to less than £10m a year;
  • Ask why royal funding will not be based on need and subject to the same scrutiny and annual budgeting applied to all other government spending?

When asking your MP to raise these issues please also ask them to table amendments to the proposals that will address your concerns. Remember, you can easily write to your MP by visiting the www.writetothem.com website. You can find out more about royal finances at www.republic.org.uk/royalfinances.

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