Thursday

Buckingham Palace accounts revealed; Consumer spending slows down; Investors set for £500m battle for Domestic & General.

Buckingham Palace

The Queen and the royal family cost the taxpayer 62p per person last year - the same as the previous financial year, Buckingham Palace accounts revealed today.
The total cost of keeping the monarchy in the year to March 31 fell by 0.3% to £37.3m, royal accountants said.
The fall in expenditure was mainly due to a reduction in the refurbishment costs at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland, offset by increased costs in dealing with a greater number of freedom of information inquiries.
The accounts revealed the Royal Household is following the “leadership” of the Prince of Wales and has started to calculate its carbon footprint and ways to reduce it.
Charles’s own financial figures were released this week, showing he is carbon neutral and has cut his CO2 emissions by 9% over the last year.
The report included for the first time the heir to the throne’s carbon footprint, which was found to be 3,425 tonnes of CO2.
Keeper of the Privy Purse Alan Reid said: “Following the leadership of the Prince of Wales, the Royal Household has started working on measuring its carbon footprint and is developing further action plans for reducing it.
“Success has been achieved in reducing carbon emissions on gas and electricity by 1,000 tonnes, or 12% during the year, through lower energy consumption and the introduction of a new combined heat and power plant at Windsor Castle.”

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said today that there had been “tentative signals” of a slowdown in consumer spending after four rises in the interest rate in less than a year.
Mr King’s comments to the Treasury Select Committee at Westminster held out hope that interest rates may peak at 5.75% to meet the Bank’s inflation target following an expected rise from the current 5.5% next month.
They follow a survey from business lobby group CBI yesterday which showed the weakest levels of high street spending since November and a host of updates from several companies warning that recent hikes in rates were hitting their businesses.
But Mr King said that risks to inflation “were still for the upside”, with particular uncertainty over high levels of business pricing confidence, the rapid expansion of money, and the “buoyant” state of the world economy.
The Governor called last month for a rise in rates to 5.75% but was out-voted by his colleagues on the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in a knife-edge 5-4 decision.

The prospect of a £500m battle for Domestic & General emerged today after the warranties specialist said it had attracted further bid interest .
D&G disclosed last month that it was in the sights of Homeserve, a household repairs and emergencies business. However, it added today that it had received other approaches, lifting shares by another 8% to 1333p and giving the Wimbledon-based firm a market value of around £484m.
The update on bid interest came as D&G said trading in its core warranty business remained strong, with long-standing client relationships, new business activity and strong renewals continuing to drive growth.
However, it said it was holding a strategy review for its third-party call-centre business after the Inkfish operation recently lost a contract with the Post Office, costing it up to £1.5m in operating profits this year.
Inkfish, which was founded in 1995 and joined the D&G group in July 2001, has call centres in Slough, Nottingham and Brighton. D&G said the review would also take into account increased call centre activity from the warranty business.
Homeserve confirmed its takeover interest in the wake of a sharp rise in D&G’s share price last month. The Walsall-based business, which provides repair cover for domestic emergencies ranging from frozen pipes to fire damage, has 7.1 million policies and more than 4,000 staff, including 1,000 directly employed engineers.

The pound at noon was US$2.0014 compared to US$1.9970 at the previous close while the euro at noon was £0.6724 compared to £0.6727 at the previous close.

For more on these and other stories see nebusiness in tomorrow’s Journal. 

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