Nice work if you can get the rest of us to pay for it

 by Martin Belam, 26 June 2004

One of the most depressing things about the annual revelation of the amount of money spent by taxpayers on the Wettin family is the fatuous comparisons - for example, this time round it is that they cost us two pints of milk. So between the lot of us it's actually the cost of around 117 million pints of milk.

This year the report included the astonishing figure that every time the Royal Train is used it costs the taxpayer £43,444. According to a spokesman "We do not claim the royal train is cheap to travel in". At least I guess that is honest. The spokesman goes on to say "It is very reliable and secure. As the Queen grows older, it becomes an ever more important form of transport for her".

Speaking as someone who a couple of weeks ago helped my grandmother across Liverpool Street station on a journey from the entrance to the platform that took 15 minutes because the accessibility is so poor for someone with difficulty walking, I know where I would rather see the £782,000 the royal train cost over the year spent - on better access to trains for all of our elderly.


This line in that guardian story makes no sense (to me at least): 'Expenditure last year was 1.7% higher than the £36.2m cost of last year, which is estimated to be a real terms decrease of 1%.'

Well, I guess it is a reflection that 1.7% is 1% less than the retail index inflation rate. Although I find it difficult to believe that the things they have spent the money on (garden parties, state banquet, entertaining glad-handers) are in the average weekly shopping basket. Well, I guess the dog food and the vet's fees might be.

This is probably not much help, but the station staff do offer help for people with mobility problems.

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