High-flying royals cut travel costs

21 Jun 01
The royal household has slashed the amount it spends on travel by two-thirds since it began making its own arrangements, the National Audit Office has revealed.

22 June 2001

Inspectors from the public spending watchdog found the annual bill for transporting members of the royal family had fallen from £17.3m in 1997/98 to £5.4m in 2000/01, a drop of 69%.

Almost 90% of these £11.9m savings were made on air travel, by setting up an in-house helicopter service and switching to smaller, more economical aircraft. Another factor was the reduction in the charges for using planes from the Royal Air Force's 32 squadron.

NAO inspectors have said further savings can be made if the royals stop paying the full costs of using a 32-squadron plane and, along with government ministers, pay only variable costs, which exclude overheads such as maintenance. The Treasury has now accepted this recommendation.

'The household's use of 32 squadron [should] be charged at variable rather than full cost, to better represent the cost to the taxpayer and as a basis for deciding between travel options to minimise overall costs to the taxpayer,' the report said.

Inspectors praised the household for putting into place effective arrangements for procuring chartered and scheduled flights, and introducing transparent and accountable finance systems.

Auditor and comptroller general Sir John Bourn praised the royal household's budget management skills. 'It has made very good progress in making significant reductions in expenditure on royal travel while maintaining flexibility and standards of provision,' he said.


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