The Queen just got a 6.5% payrise – but how much will she be paid in total?

Hidden expenses make UK monarchy world’s most expensive govt institution

Her Majesty is expected to be awarded £45.6m in April, an increase of £2.8 million up from £42.8 million this year


The Queen is in line for a 6.5% payrise and could net a cool £45.6 million from the taxpayer next year if the way she is funded stays the same.

Figures released show a total profit of £304.1 million for the Crown Estate.

If the Queen receives her Sovereign Grant calculated at the customary 15% of that she would be handed £45.6 million from the Treasury in April 2017, an increase of £2.8 million up from £42.8 million this year.

However, the formula for the Sovereign Grant is being reviewed this year by The Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Keeper of the Privy Purse who will potentially change the way it is calculated to less than 15% of Crown Estate profits.

This could mean her payrise is smaller, but she will still be in line for a bumper sum as rules state she cannot get less than any previous year.

But a source said about the negotiations yesterday in light of Brexit turmoil: “This is hardly the moment where we are going to finalise a review of the Sovereign Grant.”

News of the potential payrise came as Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Alan Reid revealed how the royals have spent the £40.1 million they were given in April 2015 – amounting to 62p per person per year in Britain.

He also stressed they have added to this by raising £13.9 million of their own money including through renovating and renting out apartments.

Last year it was reported they were renting one in St James’s Palace thought to bring in nearly £250,000 per year.

A source said: “We have a number of commercial lets in various parts of the estate.

“They tend to be where they are outside of a security cordon.”

Sir Alan Reid said: “I am encouraged by the increase in income generated outside the Sovereign Grant; this shows that we are meeting a key recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee.”

Prince Charles also revealed that his income from the Duchy of Cornwall estate rose to more than £20 million for the first time to £20.467 million up from £19.845 million the previous year.

Expenditure on the area of his accounts that funds Prince William, Kate and Harry was also up 9.5% from £2.965 million to £3.249 million, although officials would not say how much of the increase was down to the three young royals or itemise how that money was spent.

The bill for royal travel was down to £4 million from £5.1 million the previous year, but there were still some eye-watering travel costs billed to the taxpayer including a £94,409 charter plane for Prince Charles and Camilla’s tour of the Balkans in March.

Charles and Harry also spent £74,500 on a charter flight to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign last April.

Charter flights for The Queen and Philip to travel to Malta in November 2015 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting cost £55,358 with an additional £8,696 on scheduled flights for their staff, and Prince Harry’s flights to Nepal in March cost the taxpayer £33,278.

Some 221 helicopter journeys were taken at a total cost of £569,483.

The Royal Train also racked up some hefty bills including £20,034 for The Queen and Philip to travel from London to Aberdeen last August and £33,249 for Prince Charles to travel to travel from Ayr to Yorkshire to Aberdeen in September.

The largest expense was £16.3 million spent on repairing crumbling palaces.

Sir Alan said: “The occupied royal palaces are a vital part if our national heritage and can only be preserved through sustained investment.”

He added: “Despite increased investment…the condition of the estate is deteriorating at a faster rate than we’ve been able to respond at to date” and said any future increase in funding would go on royal palace maintenance.

EU Approves three new GM Crops

“This is a big step backwards for anyone who wants their food to be produced responsibly, fairly, and sustainably.” GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill

The European Union has approved three biotech soy traits for import and processing. The latest three are:
• Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend with dicamba and glyphosate tolerance
• Monsanto’s Vistive Gold, which is a high oleic soybean with glyphosate tolerance
• Bayer’s Balance GT which offers tolerance to glyphosate and the company’s HPPD inhibitor (developed with MS Technologies)
Commenting on the news that the European Commission has authorised three new GM soybeans for import, after the European Council (member countries) could not reach a decision, GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill said

“We hear constantly about the hypothetical potential of new GM techniques but this is the real face of GM 2.0 – more monocultures, sprayed with more herbicides.”

The recent US National Academies of Science report on GM highlighted the “major agricultural problems” caused by GM herbicide tolerant crops and EU approval for three more will only make those problems worse.
EU consumers have been voting with their wallets for years. Sales of GM foods are minimal across Europe because they have to be declared on the label. However, that’s not the case with meat, eggs and dairy products from animals fed on GM. Today’s move will bring yet more GM into the UK and the rest of Europe and consumers will find it very difficult to avoid buying GM-fed.
GM Freeze is the UK’s umbrella campaign for a moratorium on GM in food and farming. Members include the Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, farmers, scientists, retailers, and local campaigners.
Europe is a major soybean customer with more than 165 million bushels of exports already in 2016.

Fracking’s affect on Farms Ignored by UK Govt

Frackings impact on farms left out of UK Govts assessment.

A Defra report into the impact of shale gas on the rural economy was released on Wednesday (1 July 2016).
But the 22-page report, much of which had been withheld, devotes just two sentences to farming.
It warns that the industrialisation of the landscape from shale gas exploration could adversely impact farming and rural tourism businesses and that possible surface water pollution could impact people who ate “contaminated wildlife, livestock, or agricultural products”. But Defra has discontinued the study, and a spokesman at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said it had not done any specific impact assessment on farming and food production because it was satisfied the risks of fracking could be managed.
Decc said it based this on the findings of two reports – but Farmers Weekly found that neither of these looked in any detail at the impact on farming businesses and food production.

This is despite numerous concerns raised by farmers, the public and MPs about possible water contamination, degradation of farmland, food safety and the potential loss of contracts with processors and retailers.

Tony Holden, a dairy farmer’s son in Lancashire, said he feared supermarkets would ban produce from fracked farmland.

“I’m really worried because if we have an accident on farm and [the well] spurts stuff out, that land is redundant, useless. Farmers aren’t being told the truth,” he said.
Get yourself informed.If anyone comes in a shiny suit and offers up lots of money, they’re probably not the person you want to be dealing with.”

Heralding Article 25 : A People’s Strategy for World Transformation

Heralding Article 25 : A People's Strategy for World Transformation, Paperback

Heralding Article 25 : A People’s Strategy for World Transformation Paperback (May 2016)

by Mohammed Mesbahi

Article 25 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Guardian: UK housing crisis ‘in breach of Universal Declaration of Human Rights’

Charities say soaring housing rental costs, unhealthy conditions in homes, and rising levels of homelessness mean UK is in violation of UN commitment on homes

Robert Booth Tuesday 28 April 2015 00.54 BST

The UK is in breach of its own United Nations human rights commitment to provide people with adequate homes because the housing crisis is so serious, a consortium of leading housing charities has warned. They cite soaring housing rental costs, unhealthy conditions in homes, and rising levels of homelessness and warn of “profound issues of lack of supply, increasing housing costs, lack of security of tenure and homes of such poor quality that they are unfit for habitation”.

Called Just Fair, the group’s members include Crisis, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Save the Children and Unicef UK. Their document describes the right to housing in England as in “crisis”.

“It is quite clear we are in breach of our UN obligations,” said the report’s author, Dr Jessie Hohmann, law lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. “It is possible to take policy steps to protect the most vulnerable and marginalised, but the UK government has decided not to do that. Since the 1980s we have lost any concept of housing’s social function, and that is why protest movements are gaining ground. Without decent housing, you can’t experience an adequate life in society, but now housing is seen just as an asset.”

In a 40-page report, Just Fair concluded:

Private rents are at double the level of council properties, at £163 a week, and a quarter of those renting rely on housing benefit to meet the cost
A third of homes in the private rented sector do not meet basic standards of health, safety and habitability
Rough sleeping in London increased by more than a third between autumn 2013 and autumn 2014, while funding for shelters fell
Last December there were almost 62,000 households in England living in temporary accommodation, the highest number for five years, and 280,000 households are at risk of homelessness
The number of families living in bed and breakfasts more than tripled from 630 in 2010 to 2,040 last year
“Exceptionally high” levels of rising homelessness and the growing number of households at risk of homelessness represent “a serious failing in the government’s obligations”, it concludes.
According to Just Fair, the UN agreement to “recognise the the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living … including housing” only allows reduction in rights to housing in cases of “force majeure”, including natural disaster and war, and cuts executed during financial crises must be ended when the crisis is over.


The report cames as party leaders trade blows over housing in the general election campaign. Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis, said the report “should be a wake-up call for all political leaders”. On Sunday, Labour announced plans for rent controls in the private sector, while the previous week the Conservatives said they would extend the right-to-buy to housing association tenants.Grassroots residents’ rebellions against evictions and social housing sell-offs have also focused public anger on the state of the housing market.

Just Fair is overtly critical of coalition policy on housing. Its report said: “Problems in realising the right to housing are linked to a political climate of austerity, and attendant cuts to state social security and other benefits. The resulting situation is accurately identified as one of crisis.” It also says one of the most serious issues is the failure to build enough new homes, which dates back through successive Labour, as well as Conservative, governments.

Among the causes of the worsening crisis, the report also cites the government’s removal of the “spare room subsidy”, also known as the bedroom tax, the “stark undersupply” of new homes, and insecurity of tenure in the private rented market as a result of a the lack of protections in tenancy agreements. “It should be a matter of significant concern that one-third of households in the private rental sector are living in housing that is substandard to the point that is unsafe or unhealthy,” the report states.


The report suggested that so called “Revenge evictions”, where tenants lose their homes when they complain about standards, are so widespread that as many as 200,000 happening in 2013. That, Just Fair argued, amounted to a breach of the UN covenant’s prohibition against arbitrary eviction.

Responding to the report, Conservative housing minister, Brandon Lewis, said: “We inherited a broken housing market after Labour’s housing crash.” He added that “there is more to do”, but said his party would deliver 275,000 new affordable homes in the next parliament.

“Despite the need to pay off Labour’s deficit, Conservatives in government have worked to increase housebuilding to its highest since 2007 and delivered 217,000 new affordable homes,” he said. “We will ensure economic growth and stability to allow continued investment in frontline services for homeless and the vulnerable.”

For Labour, Emma Reynolds said: “Under David Cameron, housebuilding is at its lowest levels in peacetime since the 1920s, there is a severe lack of affordable homes, families face growing insecurity in the private rented sector, and there has been a dramatic rise in homelessness and rough sleeping. Labour will take action to tackle this crisis.

“We will get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020, boost the number of affordable homes built year on year, reform the private rented sector, and we will set out a long-term strategy to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.”

“Rough sleeping has risen by 55% in the past five years,” said Sparkes. “This dreadful state of affairs is the result of successive governments’ failure to tackle the housing crisis, combined with severe cuts to housing benefit that have left growing numbers of people struggling to keep a roof over their heads. The housing crisis will not solve itself. We desperately need more affordable homes as well as political action to fix our broken private rented sector.”

The report is intended to inform a UN audit of housing in England starting this autumn. It was largely funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

John Manthorpe: ‘Why privatising the Land Registry is wrong’

Why privatising the Land Registry is wrong

Photo of land certificate

Former Chief Land Registrar John Manthorpe explains why land registration needs to stay public.

The Government’s Annual Spending Review, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 25th November 2015, included a proposal to “consult on options to move operations of the Land Registry to the private sector from 2017”.

The Government published its consultation document on 24th March. Less than two years ago a similar and wide ranging government consultation was conducted by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). This led to an overwhelming rejection of such a proposal from a wide range of stakeholders. Consultees made clear that the Land Registry must remain as a public department of Government. Despite this informed response the Government are now to renew the consultation – presumably disregarding the clear views expressed last year from those who use and depend on the Land Registry’s services.

Constitutional position in Government – land registration ‘an act of sovereignty’

Land registration is the exercise by government under statute of the impartial control and development of an adjudicatory system which enables the ready creation, extinguishment and exchange of private interests in land under the law. It is the positive choice of government to provide and create certainty and security for the citizen, for business, and for public authorities and financial institutions. By establishing trust and confidence in title it promotes private ownership, secured lending and economic development. It does this by reserving to itself, on behalf of the Crown and under the law, the power to grant, and to rectify, title and to maintain a single authoritative and guaranteed register of legal interests in land. Where land is registered the register forms the only title to land recognized by law.

The act of registration has been described as an “act of sovereignty” inasmuch as it is in exercise of its sovereign power that the State declares title after examination to be absolute and makes it valid against the world.

The Registry’s independence from commercial or specialised interests is essential to the trust and reliance placed on its activities. It would not be possible for actual or perceived impartiality to be maintained or public confidence sustained, if a private corporation or institution (particularly if such a body had conveyancing, financial or land holding functions) were to assume responsibility for the granting of legal estates in land and the maintenance of a public register

The new consultation can be said to fall into a continuous series of Royal Commissions, Inquiries and Reviews that have been conducted over three centuries. This includes the land registration statutes enacted by Parliament since 1862 (most recently the Land Registration Act of 2002) but also specific government sponsored reviews of the Civil Service which have included reviews of the organisation and financing of HM Land Registry. All of these reasserted unequivocally that the Land Registry must remain as a public department of Government.


The Land Registry has been a public department of Government since its establishment 153 years ago in 1862. For 149 years it was a legal department of the Ministry of Justice (and its predecessor departments). The Chief Land Registrar, as Head of the Department and full Accounting Officer, was directly accountable to the Lord Chancellor. In 2012 it transferred to (BIS) with the Chief Land Registrar now accountable to the Minister at BIS.

What the Land Registry does

In understanding why successive administrations have been so clear about the Land Registry’s position as a public department of Government it is helpful to restate what the Registry actually does – as set out in the following paragraphs.

There is, every day, a massive movement across the country in interests in land.  These can arise from sale and purchase, inheritance, mortgage, discharges, leases, restrictions, matrimonial and family matters.  In addition bankruptcies, repossessions, the protection of third party rights and Orders of the Court relating to land rights require protection by registration. The Registry handles all house sales activated by Estate Agents, all sales and purchases handled by conveyancers and every secured loan generated by Banks, Building Societies and other lenders.  Because it is constantly maintained, and records the priority of all pending land transactions in England and Wales, the land register stands to give authoritative and guaranteed notice to all.  This includes those who deal with land occasionally (e.g. purchasers) and those who deal regularly (e.g. lending institutions). It is the maintenance of the national land register which enables vendors to demonstrate proof of ownership, and purchasers and lenders to carry through their intentions to contract and to completion safely and simply.

None of this massive and daily movement of guaranteed interests in land, between citizens, business, public bodies and financial institutions, on which the market economy depends, could function without an impartial and trusted system of land registration

The input to this dynamic land register is the constant flow of agreements, contracts, deeds and documents – freely made between people, banks, institutions, local and central government and the Crown – in any combination and at any time. Decisions are made, contracts are agreed, registration is effected.  The ever changing legal relationship of land and people is constantly and instantly reflected in a public place. What would otherwise be hidden is synthesized into a common, guaranteed and public record open to all. Security, confidence, transparency, choice – all become possible. Publicly registered land rights are ‘good against the world’. Individually they protect the interests of the registered owner; together they constitute the underwritten record of the collective wealth of the country. Around the world a trusted system of land registration is central to social stability and economic success

The secured credit activity of Banks, Building Societies and other financial institutions depend on the guarantees provided by the Land Registry. These guarantees and reserved priorities are essential before any decision can be made to generate a secured loan or to go to contract. All lenders secure their power of sale in the event of default by substantive registration of their mortgages.

On every transaction the Registry is responsible, on registration, for the validation of documentation and for ensuring that conveyances, transfers, mortgages etc, are properly executed and legally effective. The Registry must verify that an owner has the power to sell and that the transaction is made having regard to any prior claims by third parties affecting the property. This constant curative process ensures, before the legal estate passes, that the interests of all parties affected by the transaction are properly considered and that any necessary Notices have been served on those entitled to receive them.  Quite apart from ensuring that any legitimate interests are protected the Registry is able to resolve potential problems, disputes or ambiguities at an early stage so avoiding, as far as possible, future dispute and litigation.

It is this which is the core and dominant work of the Land Registry. It is this which ensures the continuing existence of an up to date, trusted, register of legal interests in land. It is this central task of the Registry that employs the majority of its staff, many with highly developed professional and specialist skills. It is this that provides the essential and statutory machinery that enables a massive, and continual, movement in land interests to take place with confidence. Land Registry and its specialist staff

Maintaining the land register in the fluctuating and sometimes complex, competitive property market requires the exercise of sound risk taking judgement by the Registry’s staff drawing on long standing practical experience and the interpretation of primary and subordinate legislation.  Their decisions have to be visibly impartial and free from conflicts of interest, dealing as they do with the sometime competing and contrary interests of individuals, neighbours, financial institutions, private companies and public bodies.

Self financing – no cost to the exchequer

The Land Registry is self-financing operating at no cost to the public purse. It has an excellent record of holding and reducing its costs, and its fees to customers. It pays an annual dividend to the Exchequer. It is highly regarded by those who depend on it as a provider of trusted, prompt services.

Land registration is not an activity that any responsible Government can transfer to the private sector.

The Land Registry is a national treasure – sign the petition to keep it that way.