Maintaining the Palace of Westminster

Three years ago I asked a question about the cost of repairing and maintaining the Palace of Westminster in the period leading up to the expected decant of the Palace for the Restoration and Renewal Programme.   The annual cost of simply keeping the Palace habitable while undertaking various projects is substantial.  I returned to the issue earlier this month and basically sought an update on costs as well as asking about the estimated risk of catastrophic failure of essential services over the next few years.   The answer, from the Senior Deputy Speaker, is reproduced below.  With major projects included, the cost in the period 2021-25 is over £400m.   By the time we decant, I suspect it will have gone over £500m.  There is also a medium risk of an essential service, such as water, failing.  At least the risk of unexploded ordinance going off is very low.

________________________

27 May 2021

The forecast cost of repair and maintenance of the Palace of Westminster in each year from 2022/23 to 2024/25, as per the most recent Medium Term Financial Plans, is set out in the table below. This includes the forecast spend on both maintenance and major projects on the Palace. There is not yet a reliable forecast for repair and maintenance beyond the 2024/25 financial year.

2021/22 2022/23 2023/24 2024/25
Planned preventative & Reactive maintenance £7,821,724 £8,156,641 £8,134,727 £8,218,493
Minor projects £2,212,473 £2,212,473 £2,212,473 £2,212,473
Maintenance team £5,013,950 £5,013,950 £5,013,950 £5,013,950
Maintenance and Minor projects £15,048,146 £15,383,063 £15,361,149 £15,444,916
Major projects £102,393,805 £140,357,071 £98,586,481 £23,504,834
Total £117,441,951 £155,740,134 £113,947,630 £38,949,749

The risks of failure relating to the physical condition of the Palace of Westminster are reviewed and mitigated as part of the operation and maintenance of the Parliamentary Estate. These risks include fire, hitting uncharted underground services, unexploded ordnance, and failure of legally required services, all of which have mitigation plans in place to reduce the risk of failure. The table below shows the current assessment of the likelihood of the top five risk events in relation to catastrophic failure.

Top 5 Risk Events in relation to Catastrophic Failure Likelihood
Fire during construction work Low
Collapsing structures Very Low
Uncharted underground services Very Low
Unexploded ordnance (UXO) or other hazardous materials Very Low
Failure of legally required services (e.g. water) Medium

Source: In-House Services and Strategic Estates Health and Safety & maintenance team risk

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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