A penny for your thoughts

June 30, 2009

The Queen is costing us more, the Liverpool Daily Post (among many others) tells us:

“During the last financial year, the total cost of keeping the monarchy increased by £1.5m to £41.5m.

“The Queen and the Royal Family now cost the taxpayer 69p for every man, woman and child in the country – a 3p increase compared to 2007-08.”

That 69p figure seems like a good way of putting that huge sum of £41.5m into context – except it’s not entirely clear what the population of the UK actually is. Given that populations by their nature change over time, it’s reasonable to take the most recent figure; but even here, there’s room for ambiguity.

The Guardian, for example, in an article dated March 2009, gives it at 61m, a fair rounding-up of the Office for National Statistics’ figure of 60,975,000 in mid-2007. But using either of these figures, that £41.5m works out at 68p, rather than 69p – and the increase from 2007-08 becomes 2.4p, rather than 3p.

Now a difference of 1p is no big deal – but why use the figure of the UK population as a whole anyway (apart from the fact that it lets you use that old cliche, “… for every man, woman and child”?). Since it is taxpayers who contribute, why not express the sum as the amount paid by each of the UK’s 29.3m taxpayers? That works out at £1.42 each, an increase of 5p on the previous year.

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