Queen's 'rainy day' fund down to last £1m

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Cash-strapped Britons, know your hard-working Head of State struggles with you. The Queen's rainy day bank account is down to its last million. Not a lot considering the 430-plus staff cost of £19.5m each year.

Happily the Queen's taxpayer-supported sovereign grant is to climb from £31m to almost £38m. A not so shabby 20% rise. Does she need the raise?

Feeling the pinch

When the commercial value of the Royal Family is reckoned at £44bn, according to a Brand Finance estimate last year, perhaps not. However the National Audit Office (NAO) claims the Queen is now left with just £1m for covering basic costs to run the Royal Household and engagement expenses.

Broken down, roughly, the Queen has staff costs of £19.5m every year, £9.1m in property maintenance costs plus £4.5m in travel expenses, totalling £33.1m. Other expenses - security, policing, etc - are met by the State. Last year the grant given to the Queen was worth £31m, which rises 20% to £38m.

Under the terms of the 2011 Sovereign Grant Act, a single Treasury grant replaces the former Royal civil list. In return, the royal household did suck back £11.6m in income last year.

Pass the hat round?

The NAO claims real-terms cuts during the last few years has meant property maintenance neglect at the royal palaces, with almost 40% of occupied royal residences below 'target condition'.

"At 31 March 2013," the NAO claims, "the sovereign grant reserve stood at £1m, equivalent to 3% of net expenditure for the year. As part of its long-term planning the household may need to consider whether the reserve is adequate to meet unexpected costs."

The NAO also claims that maintenance spending since the financial crisis in 2008 has been severely cut, in line with the public belt-tightening. Does the Queen, then, deserve her 20% grant hike?