A post on Facebook with a screenshot of a tweet says: “If the estimated £1 billion being spent on the jubilee was divided amongst the 26 million households in the UK, it would mean a windfall for each household of £38,000. Now that would be something to celebrate. Abolish the monarchy now.”
The maths in this claim is wrong—dividing £1 billion (which is one thousand million) by 26 million would not give £38,000 per household, but £38. The person who originally tweeted this has deleted their tweet and subsequently said they got the calculation wrong.
It’s also worth noting that, as of 2021, there are an estimated 28.1 million households in the UK, rather than 26 million.It’s not entirely clear if the claim that £1 billion will be spent on the Jubilee relates to the cost to taxpayers, or just what households are expected to spend during the celebrations, for instance in shops and pubs. If it refers to the cost to taxpayers it’s likely a significant overestimate, though we don’t yet have reliable figures for the total cost of the event.
How much will be spent on the Platinum Jubilee?
We don’t know exactly how much the Platinum Jubilee celebrations will cost the taxpayer, but we haven’t seen any evidence that it will be as much as £1 billion.
The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport submitted evidence to the DCMS select committee inquiry on major cultural and sporting events in May 2021, and said: “The government recognises the importance and value of hosting major events and is investing almost £1 billion in staging celebratory events to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Festival UK* 2022 (the Festival) next year.”
It broke this down further, saying £778 million was for Birmingham 2022, £120 million for the Festival and £28 million for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Indeed, in the 2021 Budget, Rishi Sunak announced “£28 million to fund the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022, delivering a major celebration for the UK”.
It’s not clear how that figure may have changed since it was published. It’s understood the DCMS will not be able to confirm final costs until after the event.
Some of the costs of the Jubilee celebrations will be borne by partner organisations rather than paid for by the taxpayer.
For example, the National Lottery has provided £22 million to fund programmes with Arts Council England, Sport England and the British Film Institute which “will support communities to develop activities that bring people together to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022”.
And Sunday’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant, which according to its website “will have all the excitement and spectacle of an international parade and carnival”, is being independently funded so that it can be delivered “at no cost to the taxpayer”, the government says.
As with any large events, there are likely to be policing costs for some of the Jubilee celebrations, and while it’s impossible to make a direct comparison, the cost of security at some other major events such as the royal weddings has run into the millions. We have asked the Met Police if they know how much policing the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London will cost and whether it is funded by the £28 million announced by the government, and will update this piece if they respond.
What will the Jubilee weekend mean for the economy?
The claim of £1 billion being spent could also refer to the amount the public is predicted to spend directly over the period, rather than how much the celebrations will cost the taxpayer.Estimates we’ve seen for this vary wildly. For example, the Mirror quoted a retail analyst who estimated the Jubilee could mean a sales boost of between £1 billion and £2 billion at pubs, shops and other venues on food and beverages, depending on the weather. Meanwhile the Centre for Retail Research has estimated that new retail spending relating to the Jubilee will amount to around £408m between April and June.
However, any estimate of the overall impact of the Jubilee also needs to factor in the effect of the Jubilee weekend including two bank holidays—the late May bank holiday which has been moved, and an additional bank holiday to create a four day weekend.
DCMS also did an impact assessment for the extra bank holiday and said its best estimate was that it would result in a £2.39 billion fall in GDP, which takes into account both the output lost from the extra bank holiday, but also output that might be gained in certain sectors like hospitality and tourism.
Image courtesy of Ian Taylor