Perhaps relieved to find that somebody else is squandering even more public money than them, the Commons Public Accounts Committee yesterday uncovered a story of quite staggering waste by the royal household. In reviewing the accounts of the Occupied Royal Palaces Estate, which includes Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. MPs found 32 empty flats including an apartment last used by the Prince and Princess of Wales.
A witness for the royal household admitted:
“At the time of the PAC Hearing, there were 32 vacant self-contained residential properties, compared with 27 at the time of the NAO Audit at the end of July 2008. Of these 32 properties, 28 are within the secure cordon (25 at the end of July 2008).
Three of the properties outside the secure cordon are being refurbished for commercial letting while the other is being returned to the Crown Estate.
Four of these properties have been mothballed because the costs of refurbishment are too high. 17 of the 28 vacant properties within the secure cordon were yet to be allocated at the time of the hearing.
10 of these were also unallocated at the end of July 2008, but three of these have now been allocated to staff. Six properties (three inside, three outside the secure cordon) have been vacated by pensioners since the end of July 2008, all of which were previously occupied rent-free.”
Eight years ago the committe, reviewing the same issue, reccomended that the royal household move staff into the vacant flats inside the secure area and let-out the flats outside. this sensible advice appears to have been roundly ignored whilst the problem of vacant flats has got worse.